Republican hypocrite Tom Cross: Part of the problem in Illinois

Tom Cross, the former Minority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives and the Republican candidate for Treasurer of Illinois, claims to support fiscal responsibility. However, in reality, Cross’s record includes supporting many of the very policies that have left Illinois in a huge fiscal mess.

For example, Cross recently went on the WGN-AM radio program The Sunday Spin and publicly supported cracking down on union leaders receiving pensions. However, in 2006, Cross voted for legislation to boost the pensions of union leaders. If you’re wondering why the public employee pension system in this state is an absolute mess, Cross is one of many reasons why the public employee pension system is a mess.

In the same interview with WGN-AM, Cross called for suing the governor’s office and the General Assembly for adopting unbalanced budgets. However, when Republican crook George Ryan was governor of this state, Cross supported and voted for all of his budgets despite the fact that Ryan’s budgets left the state with a massive budget deficit, a massive state debt, and raided hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s primary checking account to pay for pork-barrel projects.

In the same interview, Cross called for paying down the state’s massive amount of unpaid bills. However, Cross voted for a massive $10 billion pension borrowing plan that was supported by notorious crook Rod Blagojevich and netted Bob Kjellander, a big-time Cross crony, $800,000 in fees at the expense of Illinois taxpayers.

Over the past two decades, Republican Tom Cross has developed a long track record of saying one thing on the campaign trail while doing the exact opposite while in office. Illinois voters and taxpayers can’t afford to be double-crossed by Tom Cross any longer. I strongly encourage my fellow Illinoisans to vote for Democratic candidate Mike Frerichs for treasurer on November 4.

I Stand with Steven Salaita

As you may have heard, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), our state’s flagship university, terminated Steven Saliata,  for being brave enough to sharply criticize the Israel-led genocide of Palestinians.

Saliata recently gave his first remarks about the UIUC’s decision to fire him for exercising his First Amendment right to freely express himself, and he’s threatening to file a lawsuit against UIUC for violating his First Amendment rights if UIUC doesn’t rehire him:

Professor Steven Salaita was terminated from a tenured faculty position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) because he sent out tweets through his personal Twitter account that were critical of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Yesterday, he delivered his first statement on what happened to a room full of supporters on the UIUC campus—a number of which had walked out of their classes.

He announced that he was focused on communicating with the university so he could be reinstated and, if he was not reinstated, the university would likely face a lawsuit for violating his constitutional rights by terminating him based on the content of his speech.

I’ve rarely spoken about Israel and Palestine, but I’m now going to express my beliefs about Israel and Palestine.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, is actively leading a genocide of Palestinians. If you want proof of that, here it is. What is even worse is that the current position of the Obama Administration on Israel and Palestine is to shill for Netanyahu’s regime in Israel at every opportunity and defend the Israeli genocide of Palestinians. I firmly believe that Netanyahu’s regime in Israel doesn’t understand the concepts of U.S. sovereignty and Americans making foreign policy decisions, since the Netanyahu regime has a death grip on U.S. foreign policy. I believe that the U.S. should cease all foreign aid to Israel and terminate all foreign relations with Israel, since not doing so is, in my opinion, effectively defending genocide.

I absolutely despise the Hamas regime that is currently part of a unity government in Palestine. Hamas is an Islamic fundamentalist organization that intends, through terrorism and violence, to wipe Israel off the map. Additionally, Hamas supports Sharia Law, which, among other things, treats women as second-class citizens and criminalizes homosexuality.

I’m not anti-Israel or anti-Palestine, as I support the right of both countries to exist as sovereign nations. However, I am strongly opposed to genocide and terrorism.

The only reason why Salaita was terminated from UIUC is because that many of UIUC’s donors, who are more concerned about Israel’s well-being than America’s well-being, threatened to withhold money from the UIUC is Salaita remained employed by the university. I firmly believe that the UIUC should reinstate Saliata. Additionally, I believe that the Illinois and U.S. Constitutions should be amended in order to legally protect academic freedom.

Bruce Rauner spends more on wine club membership than the average Illinoisan makes in a year

Need more proof that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is out of touch with Illinois voters? He spends more money on a wine club membership than the amount of money that the average Illinoisan makes in a year.

David Lewis of Montana Pioneer magazine took a photo of a bottle of wine that Rauner’s vacation buddy and fellow union-buster Rahm Emanuel was holding. The bottle of wine Rahm was holding could only be bought through a wine club that costs a whopping $100,000 to join. Rauner confirmed his membership in the $100,000 wine club at a campaign press conference:

Q: Do you belong to a wine club that costs $100,000 to be a member of?

RAUNER: (Laughs) I have many investments and I am a member of many clubs.

REPORTER: So that is a yes?

RAUNER: Yes.

To give you a perspective on how ridiculously expensive Rauner’s wine club membership is, the average Illinoisan makes $29,519 per year, meaning that it would take the average Illinoisan 1,237 days (3 years and 142 days, if no leap years are involved) in order to make enough money to buy a membership into Rauner’s exclusive wine club. Needless to say, most Illinoisans couldn’t afford to join Rauner’s exclusive wine club.

Bruce Rauner claims to be frugal, yet he spends $100,000 of his money on a wine club membership. He can’t be trusted to put our state’s fiscal house in order.

John Shimkus is running away from voters by refusing to debate Eric Thorsland

Republican Congressman John Shimkus, who represents the 15th Congressional District of Illinois, has repeatedly refused to debate Democratic challenger Eric Thorsland.

This is yet another example of Shimkus being more concerned about the special interests who own him than the people of East Central and Southern Illinois. I believe that Shimkus, as an incumbent Member of Congress who is running for re-election, has a duty to debate Thorsland, who is his only opponent in this year’s race. The fact that Shimkus votes for the far-right Republican agenda and then runs away from his constituents is, in my opinion, disgusting.

Thorsland produced this web video, in which he said that it’s easier for him to find a white squirrel in Olney than it is to get Shimkus to debate him:

I’m a resident of, and a voter in, the 15th District, and I’ll be voting for Eric Thorsland on November 4.

Mike Frerichs ramps up his campaign for Illinois Treasurer

Mike Frerichs, who represents me in the Illinois Senate and is the Democratic nominee in this year’s treasurer’s race, is now beginning to ramp up his campaign for treasurer.

Frerichs recently rolled out his proposed “Eco-Ag Invest” program, which emphasizes use of linked deposits to incentivize energy efficiency on our state’s farms. Under the Frerichs plan, farmers would be able to receive low-interest loans through commercial banks that participate in the program for the following:

  • Solar-pump irrigation systems
  • General solar photovoltaic installation
  • Geothermal warming or cooling systems
  • Small-scale wind farming
  • Anaerobic digesters
  • Sustainable weatherization
  • EnergyStar upgrades

Although I don’t live on a farm, so, therefore, I wouldn’t be eligible for this proposed program, it’s quite rare these days for statewide candidates here in Illinois to actively court rural voters, so it’s nice to see that Mike Frerichs is courting rural voters in his campaign for treasurer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won quite a few counties in the central and southern parts of the state, to be honest with you.

My Letter to The News-Gazette Editor in support of marijuana legalization

After The News-Gazette, a Champaign-based newspaper that covers the east central part of Illinois, issued an editorial criticizing the medical marijuana legalization bill that was passed by both houses of the Illinois General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn, I wrote a Letter to the Editor in support of marijuana legalization in Illinois and other states.


Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a News-Gazette editorial, dated August 19, 2014 and titled “Marijuana in our midst”, in which your editorial board railed against a state law here in Illinois legalizing the sale of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois.

I strongly disagree with the editorial, and I strongly support legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational purposes.

I find the editorial’s opposition to medical marijuana cold-hearted. For people who have epilepsy or other medical conditions that can be treated with marijuana, to deny those patients an option to treat their medical condition is as absurd as refusing to give antacid or Pepto-Bismol to someone with heartburn.

The editorial claimed that medical marijuana in Illinois would lead to virtually anyone getting marijuana prescriptions. My solution to that problem is to legalize, tax, and regulate the production and sale of marijuana for recreational use, in a similar manner to how tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are currently taxed and regulated. In Colorado, one of two states to legalize recreational marijuana, the homicide rate in Denver has gone down, and the number of Colorado high school students using marijuana has gone down as well. Legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois would provide the state with much-needed tax revenue to pay off the state’s unpaid bills and fix some of our state’s societal problems.

As Melissa Sargent, a Democratic Wisconsin State Representative, once said, “the most dangerous thing about marijuana is that it’s illegal”. She’s right.

Aaron Camp                                                                                                     Westville


Should The News-Gazette not publish my letter, I’ve published it here on my own blog so that everyone with internet access can see it.

Mike Ditka would have embarrassed Illinois to no end had he run for U.S. Senate and won

In 2004, Mike Ditka considered running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate seat here in Illinois that was held by retiring Republican Peter Fitzgerald at the time. Ditka declined to run, and Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who later went on to be elected President twice, defeated Republican candidate Alan Keyes.

Had Ditka run and won the 2004 U.S. Senate race and then ran for re-election in 2010 and won, judging by his recent remarks over the Washington NFL team nickname controversy, he would have embarrassed this state to no end. Ditka recently claimed that the Redskins name isn’t offensive to Native Americans and called the debate over the Washington NFL team’s name “so stupid it’s appalling”:

What’s all the stink over the Redskin name? It’s so much (expletive) it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope (Redskins Owner Dan Snyder) keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.

Its been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.

For full disclosure, my favorite NFL team is the New England Patriots, and my second-favorite team is the Green Bay Packers.

There’s nothing stupid, appalling, or asinine about wanting to get rid of a racist football team nickname and replace it with something far less offensive. Referring to Native Americans as “redskins” is just as racist as using a six-letter word that begins with the letter “n” to refer to a black person is. Several years ago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) got rid of its Chief Illiniwek mascot, and, although my parents don’t agree with me on this, I thought that was the greatest thing that happened in this state’s history. Racism has no place in sports, and racist team nicknames and mascots need to be eliminated. Also, the Washington NFL team was founded in 1932 and played its first five seasons in Boston (in fact, they used a different nickname the first year they were in operation) before moving to Washington in 1937, so the Washington NFL team hasn’t been around since the beginning of football (the game dates back to the mid-to-late 19th century) or, for that matter, the beginning of the NFL (which was founded in 1920).

Also, if you want my thoughts about what the Washington NFL team should change their nickname to, “Proudskins” sounds downright awkward to me. “Burgundy”, “Pride”, “Pigskins”, and “Senators” would be my suggestions for replacement nicknames for the NFL team in our nation’s capital. Burgundy is the Washington NFL team’s primary color, Pride refers to national pride in the United States (Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital), Pigskins refers to the pigskin, a common colloquial name for the ball that is used in NFL and other football games (although footballs are actually made out of steer hides), and “Senators” refers to members of the U.S. Senate, which conducts its business in Washington (Washington has previously had two professional baseball teams nicknamed the “Senators”, both of which moved to other cities and adopted different nicknames).

Had Mike Ditka said what he told Mike Richman, who runs a website about the history of the Washington NFL team, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, he would have embarrassed Illinois to no end.

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