Friday, January 9, 2009

Joe Moore, The Nation and Walter Duranty

Chicago (and Illinois) is full of shitty politicians. The whole world has been learning that since our governor, Rod Blagojevich, was dragged out of his home by federal agents and accused of massive schemes of pay to play corruption. The Chicago City Council has been the frequent target of federal corruption investigations which, over the decades, have produced many convictions of council members, known in Chicago as "aldermen." One of them was just named one of the "Most Valuable Progressives of 2008" by The Nation, a very far-to-the-fringe-of-the-Left magazine. The only good thing about this is that The Nation didn't waste any paper on it; the "awards" are online only and do not appear in the paper magazine. The list is broken down into subcategories, one of which is "Most Valuable Local Official." Buried deep within The Nation's blogs section, we find that the local official is Joe Moore, is a member of the Chicago City Council. Moore is considered a bad joke of sorts by most Chicagoans and many around the world; you may recall his local legislation to ban foie gras (goose liver pate) in Chicago, which was ultimately overturned by the city council last year. Mayor Daley can't stand him, which is one reason why Moore has trouble getting city services in his ward. Of the tens of thousands of local officials in the United States, the choice of a shady, ineffective, unresponsive official like Joe Moore seems odd indeed. To put The Nation's choice into perspective, it is useful to know that the United States has literally thousands of incorporated places: Cities, towns and villages. It should be noted that The Nation did not limit its selection of "most valuable" to elected officials, but the broader, all-inclusive category of of "local" officials. So let's do some very quick arithmetic. There are more than 25,000 cities, towns and villages in the U.S. and Puerto Rico (Source: US Census Bureau). Each one has a mayor or village president, so there's 25,000 "local officials" right there. Each of those towns/villages/cities has a city council, town board or an equivalent. Let's make a lowball estimate of 10 members per town/village/city council or board, and we've got another 250,000 "local officials." We haven't yet begun to count the local heads of various departments. Looking at the obvious, let's add more local officials (remember, we're lowballing the numbers here): 25,000 chiefs of police 25,000 assistant chiefs of police 25,000 fire chiefs 50,000 public school principals 25,000 chairs of boards of education 25,000 tax assessors 25,000 treasurers 25,000 human resources managers 25,000 heads of sanitation services And on and on and on. Added up, the list above comes to 500,000 (half a million) "local officials." Surely, The Nation did not examine the service records of those and the millions of other "local officials" around the nation that I failed to count (i.e., animal control officials). Are we really to believe that out of literally millions of "local officials," many of whom actually save lives every week, prosecute criminals, put out fires and defend the poor, Alderman Joe Moore is "the most valuable?" Really? Really? There are 50 aldermanic wards in Chicago (twice as many as in New York City). Each ward is represented by one alderman in the city council. Alderman Joe Moore is representative of the 49th Ward, in a neighborhood called Rogers Park, and he's been in that seat for more than 17 years. He barely won re-election in a squeaky-tight run-off in April, 2007. Allegations that Moore's campaign committee committed ballot fraud, mail fraud and bribery still float around Chicago. Local bloggers have published a picture of Moore standing right next to a person as they are voting (photo, left), a clear violation of election law. Since that election, many of Moore's own personal friends and associates have shunned him, disgusted with the dirty and slanderous campaign that he ran. I should point out that Moore is a member of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), of which Howard Dean was head until today, when Barack Obama announced that he has chosen Tim Kaine to replace Howard Dean as the DNC chair. The timing of Dean's dethronement and The Nation's selection of Moore as the most valuable local official is rich with irony. Of Kaine, Obama said today that "It's his belief that politics is about something more than what all too often it's become in Washington, that it's not about enriching corporate friends or feeding partisan disputes or getting your name in the papers, but about the dignity of service." (Source) The irony is that Moore is a media whore, and a whiny prissy one at that. He loves good press but is notorious for calling editors all over Chicago to scream at them when they report an unfavorable, inconvenient truth about him. Many reporters in Chicago have been on the receiving end of a hissy phone call from him, and often they hear the phrase, "Let me talk with your editor!" Yet he's not adverse to jumping on stage in a park (photo, right) and rapping about his bad self to an audience of hundreds. Modesty is not his strongest assest. Moore is the perfect example of what Obama said Kaine stands against: Moore is all about enriching corporate friends, feeding partisan disputes and getting his name in the papers. His "service" is limited. A simple pile of gravel, for example, has been obstructing a bus stop in his ward for about two years now. Moore is fully aware of it, but has done nothing about it while old women and disabled people are forced to hobble over or around it. Another irony: With Howard Dean out, Moore's position in the DNC may be in jeopardy. If Tim Kaine is truly what Obama promises, he will eject the bums that currently account for much of the DNC membership. Dean, an embarassment to Democrats nationwide, protected Moore in the DNC. Moore, an embarassment to local Democrats in Chicago, received disproportionate support and enormous amounts of money from Dean's DNC for his re-election bid two years ago (approximatley $1,000,000 was spent by Moore's committee, a disgustingly huge sum for a city council seat; that's ten year's worth of his council salary). Moore won re-election by less than 300 votes in a ward with 20,000 registered voters; he outspent run-off rival by a ratio of approximately 8 to 1. The litany of examples of Joe Moore's lousy service is too extensive to fully describe here, so I'll refer you to a few relevant links at the end of this post. To understand the odd choice of Joe Moore, we must understand The Nation itself. For that, let's turn to an article by Bob Dacy at
The Nation, [is] an old line Eastern Establishment publication whose editor, part owner, and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, is a long time member of the globalist infested Council on Foreign Relations.... The CFR has been promoting one world government since its inception in 1921....(Chairman Emeritus of the CFR, David Rockefeller, has proudly admitted that he is working against the best interests of the United States in order to form a one world government. See page 405 of his book, Memoirs. )
That's The Nation, the neo-Stalinist magazine that thinks Alderman Joe Moore is "The Most Valuable Local Official" in the United States. Their explanation for choosing Moore is meager if not laughable. Here it is, in full and interrupted by my notes: In a city that has been rocked by corruption scandals of the ugliest sort, Chicago Alderman Joe Moore stands out as an example of the sort of steadfast and effective grassroots progressive who has fought the powerbrokers again and again and frequently prevailed. NOTE: The Nation has not been paying attention. Or, perhaps, they've gone all Walter Duranty when it comes to Moore, aware of his offenses but choose to ignore them for the sake of promoting a fellow traveler. Since he took office more than 17 years ago, Moore has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from local developers, businesses hoping for licenses or zoning exceptions, unions (including the SEIU and ACORN) and other special interest groups. He is still a friend of Robert Creamer, the convicted felon married to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and was allegedly kiting checks with Creamer but somehow escaped being charged; Creamer was convicted and is currently out on parole. Moore is as entrenched as one can get in the local "Machine" politics. Moore refuses to be constrained by the supposed limits of local government. He has gotten the Chicago city council to oppose the war, defend civil liberties and take on chain-stores that batter local businesses. NOTE: Moore was heavily criticized by local opponents of "the war" (we assume The Nation means the war in Iraq, not one of several in Africa or elsewhere) for wasting time. After all, a city council resolution against any war can only be symbolic, but it consumes time that could have been spent on fixing potholes, walking the neighborhood, returning constituents' phone calls, or other duties for which Moore is paid over $100,000 annually to perform. As for defending civil liberties, well, congratulations to Mr. Moore for being like 99% of the rest of us on that issue. The chain-stores [sic] issue, better known as the Big Box issue, was a joke. Wal-Mart was made the whipping boy for the anti-chain retailers movement, but a number of Chicago's south side alderman (mostly African-American) saw through the bullshit and realized that Wal-Mart is a local business when it builds a local store and hires local residents and pays them wages that get spent locally. Moore's own anti-business attitude has kept the 49th Ward stunted economically; he leans on businesses for "contributions" or imposes conditions that are so ridiculous that businesses either leave or chose not to come in in the first place. For more than six years, Moore has promised to beautify and revamp trouble Morse Avenue and Howard Street, two blighted business districts in the 49th but has not come through. Just last summer he was assuring business owners, again, that "Streetscape" work would finally commence last fall. Now, in January, we see that nothing has been done. Business as usual for Joe Moore. As the Holiday season approached, Moore was highlighting a "Think Globally, Shop Locally" initiative designed to help local firms compete with the big guys. "In these challenging economic times, retailers, particularly local retailers, often feel the pinch first," declared Moore in a letter to constituents. NOTE: Moore "letter" was an email blast that urged recipients to shop at a list of merchants in the 49th Ward, mostly retailers and restaurants. Moore caught a lot of criticism for that because it was a small fraction of the total of such businesses, and he was accused of only highlighting campaign donors. It was not fair to other businesses, who also pay their taxes and, therefore, their share of Moore's six-figure salary. In short, Moore stepped through a door that he really should not have opened. As for the effectiveness helping local firms "compete with the guys," it may not have hurt, but it probably didn't put any merchant over the top, either. After all, public trains run through the 49th, making it easy to escape to less blighted shopping areas. The choices in Rogers Park are slim. Try buying a designer dress, a decent men's suit, a good pair of leather shoes, first rate jewelery, or any of hundreds of other goods that are easily found not fare from the 49th Ward. The fact is that Rogers Park has limited parking, limited goods and services, but Moore keeps trying to pass off Howard Street and Morse Avenue like they're Rodeo Drive or Michigan Avenue. "We want all of our local businesses to thrive--as the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Vacant storefronts, on the other hand, have quite a different effect on our community. As we continue striving to make our community more sustainable, we need to build a retail environment where most of our needs are met locally." Moore has been active with the great national group Cities for Progress. NOTE: Moore talks a good talk but he does not know how to walk the walk. He's a magician who has perfected his slight of hand; (watch my right hand so you don't see what I do with my left hand). I don't recall, nor could I find, an example of Joe Moore ever proposing a tax cut to help business owners. He sends proxies to small merchants to bully them into removing the protective iron grates from their storefronts to keep burglars out because he fears it makes the neighborhood look bad. What Moore doesn't understand is that the murders and open air drug sales do that, and the merchants are just trying to protect themselves. Moore has not been able to control the rampant gang activities in Rogers Park, which frightens merchants away and discourages customers from visting. Rogers Park is not known as a shopping destination. As for making the community "more sustainable," that's a nonsense phrase that progressives just love but rarely define. The community, after all, is sustainable. That is, it's not going away, whether times are good or bad. But for Moore to want to "sustain" a community that has two semi-blighted, high-crime commercial strips with crappy shopping choices seems a bit weird. "Most of our needs" are already "met locally" in Rogers Park (full disclosure; I lived there for 10 years until October, 2008), if you consider "needs" as basic essentials of life. Rogers Park is better off than most in terms of availability of decent grocers. Beyond food, water, shelter and transportation, however, nothing else is really a "need." Moore Speak, after all, is Orwellian. The Nation, then, did a piss-poor job of explaining why they feel Joe Moore is the most valuable local official in the country. They did not even attempt to explain the obvious: That they chose Moore strictly for partisan reasons. Surely, the chiefs of police and fire departments, or heads of sanitation departments in towns, villages and cities across the U.S. are at least as valuable as an ineffective alderman who is despised by the local mayor and most of the local residents, widely suspected of election fraud and extortion. Finally, yet another irony: One of Moore's biggest supporters is local bar owner Michael James, a member of the radical SDS. James is a pal of Michael Klonsky, and both are self-described Communists. Klonsky is a chum of none other than Bill Ayers, unrepentent Weatherman terrorist bomber. Yet, while The Nation praises Joe Moore, in the same issue they harshly criticize Ayers (Bill Ayers Whitewashes History, Again). Had The Nation researched Moore, or Ayers for that matter, they would have found that connection. Perhaps they did, but chose to ignore that inconvenient truth. Walter Duranty would approve. RELATED: Whither The Nation Magazine? The Nation Magazine Fails to Come Clean American Thinker: The Nation Magazine does Venezuela "The Nation" Magazine Serves UN-Soros Axis Righteous Among the Editors: When the Left Israel The Disgrace of “The Nation” The Left's Lust for Revolutionary Transformation Ukrainians Protest Walter Duranty's Bloody New York Times Pulitzer ... Alderman Joe Moore: Bench archives Mike Klonsky, SDS: Bench archives Michael James, SDS: Bench archives Subscribe to Chicago News Bench