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Optimism in the Chicago Area: Heartland, CBS-2, Jim Ridings

Thomas F. Roeser 28 October 2009 One Comment

1. The Heartland Institute.

One of the nation’s finest think tanks is located right here in Chicago-but has exerted national influence. It is The Heartland Institute which has helped me in multifarious ways with innovative research and excellent speakers on current topics ranging from the economy through its superb discounting of the global warming baloney (now called by liberals “climate change” since lack of warming is so obvious). Heartland is celebrating its 25th anniversary tomorrow (Thursday) with its annual dinner at the Hilton downtown.

Here are just a few of the many-many accomplishments it’s chalked up in the last quarter century: helped defeat tax subsidies for sports stadiums, convention centers and municipal broadband ventures…all of which should be paid by private funds…thus saving taxpayers billions…helped defeat hundreds of proposals to hike income, sales, excise and property taxes at federal, state and local levels…has become the country’s finest advocates of school choice, helping write legislation creating vouchers, tax credits and charter school programs that enroll 2 million students every year…

…helped defeat ClintonCare and is doing a great job educating the unwary on ObamaCare now…has led the way on the follies of global warming: the principal reason only 36% support it now. I remember when, before Heartland started on the issue, a heavy majority of Americans supported it, misled by faulty liberal reasoning…distributed more than a million books and a million videos on multitudinous topics but primarily debunking the propaganda on climate change-running nearly $2 million in advertisements, including one that challenged Algore to debate (he finked out)…hosted three international conferences on the issue featuring scientists from 26 countries.

To accomplish these thing it has benefited from a tremendous leader all those years in Joe Bast, its first employee. At his side is a brilliant guy who possesses great resources as one of the best communicators I have ever met: Dan Miller, the former editor of Crain’s who was business editor of the Sun-Times who was a regular for many years on Chicago Week in Review.

There’s still time to attend its birthday banquet. Call them NOW at

(312) 377-4000 and tell them you want to support them for the fine work they are doing to save this country.

2. Reward the Experiment by Tuning in CBS-2 Chicago.

While I’m in such a good mood about Heartland, I want to commend a great experiment in sold news content-the CBS-2 news show at 10 p.m. It’s no secret that they have had a rocky couple of years with their ratings…but lo and behold…they have totally revised their news presentation by stressing solid Chicago content at 10 p.m. (I haven’t caught the other hours). What I like about them is that it has no glitz, no endless happy talk, no joshing and giggling…but also they have dropped stories that fill their competitive stations with brain-dead and inane cotton candy-type fare such as…happy puppies with ribbons at a doggy fair…a 5-year-old weight lifter ad vomit which passes for “news.”

The news staff is one of the finest I’ve seen covering the news and I first started watching…gosh…when Fahey Flynn was on with his jowls and bowtie. The best anchor I’ve seen here in years is Rob Johnson…supported by Jay Levine…superb investigations by Pam Zekman who I’ve known since she was a faux bar owner of The Mirage which we at the Better Government Association set up to catch Old Man Daley’s crooked plumbing inspectors.

Do turn to it at 10 because I for one want to see a first-class content-wise news operation succeed…which may spur competitors to imitate them with content not fluff.

3.  A Conservative Genius in Herscher, Illinois.

I’ve praised Jim Ridings before. He’s the gifted author of the only book written about the most crooked, most venal Illinois governor…and no I don’t mean Blago. Blago was an amateur. I mean Kankakee’s Len Small. Jim is a retired, aged 59, former investigative reporter for some southern Illinois newspapers. Now it turns out he varied his great writing with a cartooning skill that easily…very easily…surpasses anything Doonsbury has done, or Charles Schulz with “Peanuts”-or anyone else. So excited was I when I received his book of cartoons that I phoned him and asked if he would please draw and write for The Chicago Daily Observer.

Jim said he’d consider writing for it but he’s abandoned cartooning. I want to tell you that’s a great shame because his book of cartoons easily rivals in its way anything I’ve read that skewers liberalism. His cartoon book, written some years ago, is entitled “The Politically Incorrect Cheese Weasel.” I don’t know but it’s probably still available along with his Len Small bio which I definitely know is available. You can inquire by writing Jim Ridings at “Side Show Books, P. O. Box 464. Herscher, Illinois 6094.

One Comment »

  • Dan Kelley said:

    I thoroughly enjoyed “Governors and Gangsters.”

    Jim Ridings’ biography of Len Small provided some valuable context by examining the subject from a Downstate perspective and by reasserting the often overlooked fact that the culture of political corruption is not confined to the city limits of Chicago and it did not originate during the Prohibition Era. Corruption is endemic in Illinois and predated the rise of Chicago as a major metropolis.

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