Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Media, Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:27 am

Since there isn’t a ghost of a chance that the Times would ever publish a letter in its entirety written by me, I thought I would use my position as associate editor of American Thinker to respond to Bob Herbert’s laughably ignorant call for another airport in the Chicago area to be located south of the city.

To briefly sum up Mr. Herbert’s column, he believes that the jobs that would be created at the proposed airport near Peotone, Illinois would be just the ticket to get the economy moving on the terminally economically ill south side of Chicago. His fantasy airport would include minimal taxpayer financing, little chance for corrupt contract letting, little chance for political interference, and is just the thing to relieve traffic congestion at O’Hare.

My response:

To the Editor:

I want to congratulate Bob Herbert on his new job as Chief Shill and Water Carrier for Representative Jesse Jackson whose proposal to build an airport south of the city near Peotone, IL was highlighted in Mr. Herbert’s column of March 13 (”Flying Blind in Chicago). I sincerely hope Mr. Herbert will have time to keep writing columns for your newspaper as he has given me endless hours of amusement with his deadpan comedic take on many issues and personalities. Rep. Jackson would very much like to be a senator and to have the august Mr. Herbert promoting the project he hopes to use to ride to Washington will no doubt assist him greatly when it comes time to campaign for the slot being vacated by Roland Burris in 2010 - and perhaps sooner if Mr. Burris can’t get his story straight about his contacts with our late lamented governor Rod Blagojevich.

As for Mr. Herbert’s promoting the Peotone airport, I found several of his observations regarding the efficacy of such a project curious, if not shockingly ignorant. I realize that Mr. Herbert, living as he does in the New York City area, no doubt sees us here in far off Chicagoland as some exotic form of animal life. I can assure Mr. Herbert that such is not the case, that we all get up in the morning and put our pants on one leg at a time just as he does in New York — that is, if they’re still wearing pants there. We may be a little behind fashion wise out in the sticks so I wouldn’t want to jump to any conclusions.

But Mr. Herbert made some claims about the proposed Peotone airport that I would like to address, namely:

It has long been known that a third airport is needed in the Chicago metropolitan area…

Mr. Herbert is correct. It has long been known by those in favor of buying up a stupendous amount of the richest, most fertile farmland in the world - 24,000 acres which is more than 3 times the size of O’Hare - for an airport that the FAA claims is not needed. It is also a well known fact that a third airport is needed if Jesse Jackson, Jr. is going to be elected Senator from Illinois. And it is well known among certain well connected Illinois businesses and politicians that we need another airport for continued graft and corruption.

It may shock Mr. Herbert and readers in New York, but Illinois does not feature the cleanest politics in its state and local government. Surprising as it may be, we have had some minor problems from time to time with the honesty and integrity of our politicians. Scientists studying this problem point to many of our pols secreting an adhesive substance on their fingers that money can’t help but stick to - especially when that money belongs to the taxpayer. It is not a terminal illness but debilitating nonetheless as it gets in the way of good, clean government.

I’m sure Mr. Herbert was unaware of these facts when he wrote this:

The airport would be financed and built by two firms with vast airport experience: LCOR, which owns and operates International Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport in New York, and SNC-Lavalin, which has financed and operates airports in Europe, Canada, South America and elsewhere.

Um…yes. But financing the actual construction of the airport is a small part of the cost involved. Current plans call for massive amounts of road building, infrastructure improvements, not to mention some kind of mass transit plan that would have to be implemented to get people from the city out to Peotone 40 miles away. 

Illinois pols are licking their chops at the prospect of so much loose cash to be spread around.

Then there’s this bit of nonsense:

There are many advantages to this project, in addition to the private funding. The airport would be specifically designed to serve low-cost carriers that cannot afford to build and operate their own terminals. They would arrive and depart at “common-use” gates that are far more economical.

Another feature of the airport design is that it is “market driven,” meaning that it would be relatively small when it opened and could easily be expanded as demand increased.

Those “low cost carriers” are already using other airports in the region. And the idiocy of building a small airport 40 miles from downtown Chicago that could “easily be expanded” begs the question; why build infrastructure and roads for a major airport and then open a facility designed not to relieve O’Hare congestion but simply steal revenue and traffic from other small towns like Rockford, Champaign, or even Gary, Indiana which has just received FAA permission to build another runway?

The FAA is keen on expanding the airports in Milwaukee and Gary, rightly believing that this is the regional answer to O’Hare’s problems. The airlines are against Peotone not because, as Herbert believes they “are not interested in seeing low-cost competition flying in and out of a spanking new airport, especially one with enormous growth potential…” but because they have crunched the numbers and know that future traffic will be down and there is no need to have an airport with “enormous growth potential.” It is an utter fantasy to believe that Peotone would ever grow large enough to justify major carriers moving there.

Finally, Herbert is being too kind to some politicians when he says, “Simply stated, the politicians can’t get their act together.”

Is he serious? Mayor Daley has his act together just fine and will oppose a third airport in Peotone to his last breath. It’s no act, either. Daley and Jackson hate each other with a passion and Hizzoner will not only do everything in his considerable power to deny him the Democratic nomination for Senator but will fight any loss in revenue from O’Hare. Currently, there is an $8 passenger fee that streams into Daley’s hands for everyone flying in and out of O’Hare. There are also extraordinarily lucrative concessions at the airport - food, shops, parking, limos, taxis, buses, and the motherlode that comes in from towing cars from in front of the terminal left by people who didn’t believe the signs and helped their grandma with her bags anyway. These concessions represent not only cash, but marvelous opportunities to reward cronies - cronies like Barack Obama’s friend Tony Rezko who had a minority front for him so he could open restaurants in the terminals.

And Daley, who is expanding O’Hare to the tune of $15 billion and who is rubbing his hands together in anticipation of getting billions in stim money to help him finance it, will make it a cold day in hell before any other wasteful airport project gets in the way of funding his own albatross of an airport project.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. knows all of this - knows that he can claim that Peotone will set new standards for government cleanliness and incorruptible contracting all he wants but in the end, the state will be stuck with a white elephant of an airport, sprawling in the middle of nowhere and the dirty politicians and their cronies will feast as they always feast on whatever taxpayer money is allocated for this boondoggle.  

If Mr. Herbert wants to kiss up to Rep. Jackson, that’s his business. But perhaps he should learn a little of Illinois politics before he spouts off about things of which he knows little or nothing.

This article originally appears in The American Thinker


  1. Just for fun, why not take a page out of Hong Kong’s book and create an island in the lake off the coast of Chicago for a new airport? It would be far more expensive to construct that way, thus much greater graft and corruption opportunity, and it would create a wonderful backlash from the current waterfront owners. Noise abatement would not be a problem, which is a plus, but the prevailing winds, which are West to East, I suppose, would mean a larger island in that direction to accomodate landings and takeoffs without significant crosswinds, and hence even more opportunities for contracts…

    Comment by mannning — 3/14/2009 @ 12:54 pm

  2. I hate to admit it but I kind of like O’Hare, at least the American Airlines portion I usually use. The AA lounge is fine, the food in the terminal isn’t awful by airport standards — you can get a real Chicago dog with the necessary sport peppers and radioactive relish. The shopping is pitiful compared to some airports but honest-to-God who really buys a suit or diamonds at an airport?

    The problem with O’Hare is most often weather, which Peotone will do nothing to improve.

    Comment by michael reynolds — 3/14/2009 @ 1:18 pm

  3. @manning:

    y’know, there might be some real merit to that. As Mr.M noted, the political scene in Illinois is corrupt, and almost certainly will stay that way. By creating a specific centeralized “graft project”, you’d essentially have a graft budget so a reasonable expendature could be incorporated into the state’s finances, and hopefully by creating a specific feeding trough the pols would be encouraged to stop grafting other projects. It could be like “heroin parks” for politicians. And since the project is something nobody actually wants built, there would be no negative consequenes when it never gets finished.

    I’m smelling a winner, here.

    Comment by busboy33 — 3/14/2009 @ 2:16 pm

  4. Of course, one could lay down far wider runways and taxiways so that the gigantic A380 and those that follow would have a place to takeoff and land. In the future, an expansion program to put in parallel runways could be initiated to allow two simultaneous landings or takeoffs just like O’Hare. Then too, a monorail system from the terminals to Downtown Chicago would greatly improve access for the public, and would provide for other construction firms to partake in the contracts and such, including stops at the brothel district, of course.

    There would have to be an annual budget with a built in growth of 12% each year to account for some overruns and new “arrangements”, with a 5-year boost of 50% to catch up the arrears. All told, a magnificent project for the Machine–oh! and Chicago, eventually…

    Comment by mannning — 3/14/2009 @ 2:48 pm

  5. Maybe Herbert should stick to projects closer to home, like that fourth New York airport that’s been beating around the project list for the past 40 years.

    Comment by John — 3/14/2009 @ 3:16 pm

  6. @John - Totally agree with you here! Just like all other NYT op-ed writers, Bob Herbert has a number of different topics that he likes to tell his readers about, but I never heard him mention this before. My first reaction is: “How strange for a New York based commentator to be writing about Chicago airports.” Then I realized that he has much less to write about now that Bush Jr. is no longer president, so he has to fill up his column with something else. Must be harder work than he thought…

    Comment by Surabaya Stew — 3/14/2009 @ 3:41 pm

  7. For an interesting comparison go back and look at some of the arguments for and against DFW when it was built out in the middle of nowhere.

    Comment by piscivorous — 3/16/2009 @ 1:25 am

  8. While Herbert is a columnist, this does highlight a problem with contemporary journalism. Columnists and reporters regularly either cover or comment on subjects about which they know little or nothing.

    In a previous youthful incarnation, I was a reporter and eventually a manager for a major publisher. At that time, which was not really all that long ago, even the smaller dailies had semblances of bureaus and all had beat reporters. Those have disappeared.

    I don’t dispute the motive you attributed to Herbert. I agree that if his goal is to promote Jesse Jackson, Jr., that also is fine. Where I find the problem, even though he writes opinion, is when he misrepresents (perhaps unintentionally, which makes it evenw worse in a way) basic facts.

    Like it or not, we are a media-driven society. People assume what they read and hear to be an accurate summary of facts. While even desks and beat reporters got things wrong, at least there was a possiblity the editors would catch it. That is the past. We can bitch all we want about how the American people have been dumbed down, but unless they have access to accurate information we can’t totally fault them. Yes, they would do independent research in a perfect world but they no longer have the time.

    Herbert’s readers probably were convinced the Chicago area needs a third airport and this all well and good. I wish your letter would be published, or another like it to illuminate them, but it won’t be. That’s where the bad motive lies.

    Comment by jackson1234 — 3/16/2009 @ 9:47 am

  9. Man, you weren’t kidding when you said that you would be blogging less this year.

    Actually, Sue and I have been giving each other the same bug for the last 3 weeks. As soon as one of us starts to get better, we have a replapse and our temps spike and the whole cough/sneeze/runny nose thing starts all over.

    I’ve almost been over the damn thing twice. It’s something that happens every spring for some reason - Feb-March. No matter what we do, we can’t shake the damn thing.

    Anyway, the last few mornings I can barely drag myself around to do my work - no time for the blog. Hopefully, things will get back to normal this week.


    Comment by lionheart — 3/16/2009 @ 3:16 pm

  10. Hope you guys feel better soon. I’ve found that large and frequent doses of good scotch cures many ills.

    Comment by lionheart — 3/17/2009 @ 6:09 am

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