What's the matter with Chicago?

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It's been nearly two days since President Obama mercifully pulled the plug on our G8 weekend, and I still can't find anyone who cares that it's gone.

Oh, wait—that's not true.

Apparently, Mayor Emanuel's taking the loss very hard. And there are those activists who will miss having the grand, whole-world's-watching stage on which to rage against the machine.

Not that there's anything wrong with raging against machines. It's how I've spent the better part of my career.

But most of the reaction I get falls into the category of—thank god that's over.

Followed by—can we get rid of the NATO thing as well?

To which I say—hear, hear!

If we don't believe the stated reason for ditching the G8—and, let's face it, I don’t think President Obama believes it even as he says it—then we know the real reasons are: One, we're not equipped to handle it. Two, we can't afford it. And, three, it has the potential to give the Republicans great campaign material for the coming election.

In which case, we'd have the mayor's G8 dream to thank for President Santorum.

Other than that—great idea.

All of this applies to NATO, just in smaller dosages. Though, if I know the crew at City Hall, they'll manage to waste about as much money on one summit as on two. Where there's a will, there's a way.

And yet on we go with NATO. Which brings me to my real topic....

A few years ago, Thomas Frank wrote a provocative book called What's the Matter With Kansas? In it he examined why working-class white people in Kansas generally vote Republican, even though it's against their financial best interests.

I recall many earnest discussions among learned Chicagoans along the lines of—man, those yokels in Kansas are weird.

Well, Chicago, it's time to look yourself in the mirror and ask: What's the matter with Chicago?

Cause when it comes to weird political behavior, you’re at the front of the line.

This is a liberal, Democratic town. As true blue as any city/state in the U.S. of A. Voted 80 percent for Gore, Kerry and Obama.

And yet....

You say you believe in progressive taxation, but you willingly sign on to the TIF scam, which essentially robs the poor to feed the rich.

Supposedly, this is a union town, yet you voted for one of the most antiunion Democratic mayors in the country.

Okay, he's not as bad as Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker. But he's coming dangerously close. Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor Emanuel's handpicked public school CEO recently endorsed a voucher plan in which private schools would get public funds.

In short, the man Mayor Emanuel put in charge of our public schools is calling for the privatization of public education.

I know, there are those in Chicago who endorse privatizing everything, especially the schools. Just as there are those who fervently believe unions are the root of all evil and that we should more or less starve government all together by handing out more tax breaks for the rich.

Such people are called Republicans, of which there are roughly 20 percent—tops—in any Chicago election.

Presumably, the other 80 percent are Democrats, who don't want this stuff. And yet....

Now we have the NATO summit, where our elected officials—mayor, aldermen—plan to divert millions from the things you say you want (libraries, schools, police, fire, etc.) to a thing you say you don't want.

It reminds me of Mayor Daley's Olympic dream, speaking of projects nobody wanted.

As I recall, the civic community raised about $73 million for that boondoggle. And now Mayor Emanuel wants them to raise another $50 million or so for a NATO summit.

Yet somehow or other this great Democratic city can't afford art, music, or drama in its public schools.

Which most people say they want.

Folks—you're like a giant Saint Bernard being led around by the nose. In fact, that would make an appropriate cover illustration for the What's-the-Matter book.

Well, here's hoping President Obama moves NATO to Camp David. Once again we need someone to save us from ourselves.

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