Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trump makes it just so difficult for anyone of sense to sympathize w/ him

It was just a day ago that long-time WLS-TV sportscaster Mark Giangreco got himself in trouble for using a Twitter account to take pot shots at the president.
 
GIANGRECO: Reconsider his fate?

But in the sense that stuff all too quickly becomes ancient history in the modern-day news cycle, we see that Giangreco’s real offense may be that he was way too mild in dealing with Donald J. Trump.

BECAUSE ONLY THE hard-core idiotic ideologues are going to be ranting and raging about that snotty Chicago sportscaster whose offense, when you come right down to it, is that he agreed with someone else that Trump is – to put it mildly – not a decent public official.

For Trump is the one who on Friday had a spectacle made of himself when his spokesman, Sean Spicer (a.k.a., Melissa McCarthy, in drag) made a point of deliberately excluding specific newsgathering organizations from his daily press briefly.

The only point of which, by the way, is to make the day’s official pronouncements for the benefit of news media organizations!

As it turns out, the Chicago Tribune’s White House correspondent (who also does duties for the Los Angeles Times and the other newspapers that are a part of Tronc, Inc.) was among those given the boot.

WHO’S TO SAY why? There probably isn’t a real reason why, other than they were there. Or maybe Trump thinks he’s snubbing Barack Obama’s hometown newspaper? It’s all a batch of nonsense.

But one day after the ABC-owned station in Chicago suspends their sports guy without pay because he was too harsh about Trump, the president goes and does things that make him seem even more petty and pathetic than we’d ever imagined.

Now perhaps I should make one point clear. Maybe there’s a chance that Spicer took his Friday actions (which limited White House news access to organizations like the Washington Times that want to view the Trump presidency as something heroic) without Trump’s advance knowledge or approval.
 
TRUMP: Too easy to take pot shots at!

Although if that turns out to be true, he ought to be canned for putting his boss in an embarrassing predicament.

BECAUSE THERE’S NO way this controversy of selectively picking and choosing news orgs based on which ones are willing to plant their lips on your bottom does anything other than make the boss look petty and childish.

It makes me wonder if Giangreco is now somehow owed an apology for the negative actions taken against him on Thursday? Or at least to be put back on the payroll and allowed to work again!

For the record, Giangreco agreed with a Toronto Star reporter who used a Twitter account to call Trump, “a hateful, corrupt, ignorant simpleton.” To which Giangreco used his own account to say, “so obvious, so disturbing. America exposed as a country full of simpletons who allowed this cartoon lunatic to be elected.”

Which, by some standards, is a fairly mild thing to write. Anybody who scours the Internet knows full well that much nastier, and cruder, comments are written every day. Including about Trump himself. Truly effective leaders, both in business and government, are the types of people who can rise above it all.

YOU’D THINK HE’D be a “big boy” and capable of handling this – what with him supposedly being the overly successful international business executive. But it seems he’s not.
How over-the-top could Melissa McCarthy (as Spicer) be this week?

Which is why he has his people hand-picking which reporter-types are permitted to hear the official pronouncements being spewed by the spokesman. Because that is the truth of the situation – the reporters excluded didn’t miss anything of substance.

Most news briefings, particularly those of the D.C. persuasion, as so loaded with gunk and partisan spin as to be functionally worthless for getting legitimate information. Any federal reporter worth anything is not relying on the briefing for stories.

Which may be the way in which Trump winds up putting his own boot up his behind – reporters excluded from the briefing will have time to pursue real information that may well wind up making the president look even more ridiculous and realize he should have just let the reporters into the briefing to begin with.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Impeach Trump? It won’t be for any reason we, the people, approve of!

I almost find it amusing to see certain politically-motivated people getting themselves all worked up into a lather over the concept of bringing the presidency of Donald J. Trump to an end via impeachment.
 
Maybe it's true; Julia Roberts is putting on weight

Going the route that the conservative ideologues tried – and failed, I might add – to use on Bill Clinton. Giving him the unceremonious boot out of office that would have tainted him for life, similar to how some of our parents’ generation wanted to do with Richard M. Nixon and his assorted crimes and misdemeanors against the people.

IF ONLY HE hadn’t have quit first, then been pardoned.

But back to the modern day, where it seems so many of us are offended at the concept of Trump’s presidency that, after only one month in office, we’re willing to semi-seriously engage in talk about his forcible removal from office.

Heck, the City Council in Richmond, Va. – the mind of the Confederacy of old that Trump probably thinks of as his base – took it upon itself to pass a resolution calling for presidential impeachment.

It’s just a resolution. It has no binding legal authority. One can argue that nobody cares what Richmond thinks about this issue. But it does come across as somewhat scary that Trump could have p-o’ed some people so quickly.

IT MIGHT HAVE made sense if the Chicago City Council had passed such a resolution – what with all the ridiculous pot shots Trump has taken at the city in recent weeks. Although I suspect the more creative political minds of the Second City will come up with a more humiliating outcome for the Trump legacy.
Redeemable at a future Trump hearing?

Something that forevermore taints the Trump name and reputation. Which, for all the times he insists on using his name as part of the buildings he builds and projects he completes is something obviously of importance to him.

My thoughts about all of this were triggered by an e-mail message I received Thursday from the Committee for Hispanic Causes – BOLD PAC.

The Washington-based group is trying to raise money to support its efforts meant to make people seriously contemplate impeachment for Trump.
Really???

BUT AS THE e-mail itself said of their plan to raise $1 million by Wednesday night, “We begged. We pleaded. And we failed!”

Of course, the group also made sure to tell me their records showed I had contributed nothing to their effort. Which was the point of the message; to give me one last chance to redeem myself in their eyes and cough up some cash. Something I still have not done, and am not likely to do.

Because while I am as critical of the Trump presidency and the circumstances by which it came about as much as anybody else, I question the point of focusing on his removal.

Not just because I could see how the concept of a “President Michael R. Pence” would be worse because it would put the federal government firmly in the hands of the conservative ideologues who are desperate to impose their will upon all of our society.

I DON’T DOUBT that it is possible the Republican leadership of Congress could turn on Trump and decide they want to remove him. But if that were to happen, it would be for reasons that the bulk of society would not approve of. Most likely for not being conservative extremist enough to satisfy the alleged alt-right that voted in large-enough numbers to create the Electoral College quirk that put Donald into office.

If there is to be a Trump removal, it won’t be for any of the reasons that progressive-minded people would want him out! Which is why I think it is a waste to focus too much attention on the idea of “impeachment.” I’m braced mentally for the idea of being stuck with Trump for the full four years and think the proper alternative is to focus attention on coming up with a solid presidential challenger come the 2020 election cycle who can undo the damage being done now.

At least we’re not at the point in our society that we’re talking about staging a coup d’etat. Or, with all the negative attention Trump has focused on Mexico, giving Donald a fate similar to the 19th Century Emperor Maximillian – whom the French tried to impose on the Mexican people over their duly-elected President Benito Juarez.
Does anyone envision Trump's fate producing "great" art?
For those who don’t know your history, Maximillian died at the hands of a firing squad. Which may have made for an intriguing series of paintings by Manet, but isn’t the kind of scene we need repeated for the 21st Century!

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

EXTRA: What warrants Obama brand for posterity (or maybe that long)?

Out in south suburban Markham is an elementary school named for Barack Obama, while a quickie search of the Internet uncovered schools in Dallas, Los Angeles and Milwaukee named for the nation’s 44th president.
 
OBAMA: Does he need a highway too?

Which intrigues me because our federal government’s current leadership seems determined to erase anything and everything that ever occurred during the Obama years. If they succeed, will students of the future attend schools named for someone who left nothing lasting behind?

WE’RE GOING TO spend the next few years, perhaps even decades, pondering the Obama legacy – between those who want to erect tributes to it in marble and whose who want to be the equivalent of the pidgeon that dumps its waste all over it.

So it will be interesting to see how things wind up this year with a pair of bills now pending in the Illinois General Assembly, being sponsored by legislators who want Obama to be something equivalent of John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson II or Dan Ryan.

As anybody who drives around Chicago on a regular basis knows, those men all have major highways named after them. In fact, I’d bet most people only know the Ryan as a South Side highway and don’t have a clue who the former Cook County Board president really was!

We do seem to have a split.
 
STEVENSON: Can he share I-55 w/ Obama?

ONE BILL SAYS we ought to rename Interstate 294, also known as the Tri-State Tollway, for Obama. It would be a major road used heavily every day by traffic in the Chicago area, and some think it cute that it connects Illinois to Indiana and Wisconsin – all of which are states Obama took in the Electoral College in his 2008 presidential victory.

Of course, the smart alecks point out that the Tri-State is the road used by traffic to avoid having to enter the Chicago city limits.
 
RYAN: A highway, more than a man?

But there is another bill calling for the bulk of Interstate 55 in Illinois to be named for Obama. As things stand, the Chicago portion of that highway already is named for Adlai.

In fact, I suspect most Chicago motorists would get a confused look on their faces if you speak of I-55; but Stevenson Expressway will create a slew of stories of traffic congestion they have had to endure.
 
FORD: Name has new freeway fame

ALTHOUGH I SUSPECT this bill is politically loaded – there will be the rural Illinois residents who will object to having one of “their roads” being used for an Obama tribute. Yet you try to dump the name of Adlai E. from the Chicago portion of I-55, and that will create a bigger stink because people will have to learn a new name for telling people what road they were caught in traffic on during the morning rush hour.

These measures are going to create quite the political brawl; particularly since I already sense how offended the “loser” (as in the one whose idea gets rejected) will take it personally.

Will we get some people out there determined to hang on to numeric designations because they don’t want to acknowledge the Obama name – similar to how I’m aware of some people who insist on using the “Calumet Expressway” name for Ill. 394 because they don’t want to acknowledge the “Bishop Ford Freeway” and the Rev. L.H. Ford whose cultural significance as international head of the Church of God in Christ apparently didn’t extend into the non-black parts of the South Side.

It is a large part of why I personally hate seeing roads renamed for anybody. The amount of stupid-talk that gets created is never worth the tribute, and it also has the effect of reducing the memory of anyone to nothing more than a future traffic jam or deadly accident.
 
BYRNE: She saw humor in her interchange

IN FACT, ABOUT the only renaming I ever wound up liking was the one that turned the Circle Interchange (just southwest of downtown where all the expressways converge) into the Jane Byrne Interchange, in honor of the first femme to become Chicago mayor.

It’s not that I think the Byrne Interchange moniker has all that special a ring to it.

But Byrne herself was still alive when the change was made, and I’ve heard stories about how much amusement she’d gain whenever she heard radio reports about traffic congestions that inevitably would include the line, “Jane Byrne is backed up.”

  -30-

Feds need a warrant to get into public schools; what’s wrong with that idea?

When you think about it, it makes all the sense in the world. Although I can already envision the nativist element of our society ranting and raging about the unjustness of the Chicago Public Schools’ new policy.

I’m referring to the memorandum sent out this week to principals throughout the city school system, informing them that any agents of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had better have proper arrest warrants on them if they decide to set foot on any school property.

IF THEY HAVE such warrants indicating they’re looking for a specific individual and also details exactly what it is they suspect that individual of, then no one is going to even remotely think of telling those agents to stop.

But if they think they can come onto school properties on a fishing expedition, of sorts, in hopes of finding evidence of people in violation of federal immigration laws, then it is only proper that such actions ought to be halted. Although it should be noted that officials say that immigration officials haven't actually tried showing up at schools. Not yet!

While I realize some people with a “law and order” mentality think police ought to be given great authority to scour amongst our society, the fact is that we expect law enforcement personnel to show some sort of cause before we allow them to legitimately restrict someone’s freedom.

That is the American Way, even though we now have the Trump mentality developing that thinks a more authoritarian way of doing things is somehow more appropriate.

TO BE SPECIFIC about this new policy, Chicago Public Schools chief education officer Janice Jackson wrote to principals to tell them they should forbid federal immigration officials from setting foot on school property unless they have that warrant.

Which would mean that a federal judge somewhere has given at least a cursory review to the circumstances and decided that there is a legitimate reason to be suspicious.

School officials also are making an effort to gather up more information about their students that would be needed in the event that a parent gets caught up in an immigration situation. The schools want to be informed about who is next in line to be responsible for a child if the parents suddenly “disappear.”

All of this is coming about because of fears that immigration, in this era of Trump, is going to step up its efforts and will be overbearing in its desire to remove people from our society whom some amongst us are determined to believe should never have been here to begin with.

I’VE NOTICED AMONGST my own Facebook friends those who live in neighborhoods with higher-than-average populations of non-Anglo residents warnings that “ICE agents” are out and about, on the lookout for people whom they want to believe are candidates for deportation.

People are feeling the need to be wary. The Obama era of wanting to think that such people have a place in our society and do make worthy contributions is most definitely over.

In fact, I wonder if amongst the Trump-ites, which Obama-era sentiment is a bigger priority to erase – serious immigration reform or health care reform.

It may be amongst the nativist element that foreigners, particularly if they habla en Español, are a bigger threat than having one’s tax dollars help to cover the cost of providing health insurance to all (or as many as possible).

IN LIGHT OF such attitudes spreading through our neighborhoods, it is reassuring that schools officials are showing a little bit of sense. And because they’re asking to see a warrant, it means legitimate law enforcement efforts won’t be thwarted.
Do ideologues hate health care or immigration more?

Just like the concept of “sanctuary cities” does NOT mean that people without valid Visas are capable of hiding out in Chicago, or any other place with that distinction.

It’s about requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to do their own work, which makes sense because they’re the ones trained in the nuances of immigration policy. Local cops have enough to do without being required to add immigration tasks to their work load – even though the new Trump policies seem to want to make just such an addition.

Just as schools officials have enough responsibilities to deal with, without having to monitor their student bodies and try to figure out which ones have parents whose immigration status is questionable!

  -30-

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Is Trump truly determined to make peoples’ worst nightmares come true?

I remember back a few years ago when then-President Barack Obama imposed his executive order that offended nativist ideologues because it tried to impose some sense on our nation’s immigration policy.
TRUMP: Determined to be absurd?

It was the order that proclaimed young people could remain in this country without fear of deportation – even if their immigration status was less-than-solid. It required those young people to register themselves, which had some people fearful that a future administration would use all that information gathered to suddenly put together a list of people to have priority status for deportation.

AT THE RATE that now-President Donald J. Trump is acting, it would seem that’s exactly the direction he’s headed in. And as for those activists who liked to tag Obama with the “deporter-in-chief” label, it won’t be long before Trump will snatch that status up all for himself.

We have a president who made some of his earliest presidential actions measures that indicate there are certain people now in this country whom he thinks have no right to be here.

Personally, I’d argue there are some people now living in the United States whom this nation would probably be better off without. But I’m aware that the notion of deporting the entire populace of Mississippi and Alabama (and maybe Arkansas, too) is something that is ridiculous to contemplate.

Of course, the idea of a mass deportation of people of Mexican ethnic origins (which I’m sure many think will include everyone with ties to any Latin American nation) is even more ridiculous.

BUT IT DOES seem to be the goal of many of the 46 percent of the populace that voted for Trump to be president, and the reason they remain pleased with Trump is that he is engaging in the absurd rhetoric that would indicate their ridiculous fantasies have a chance of coming true.

These are the thoughts running through my mind upon learning Tuesday of the Homeland Security memos that threaten to expand the number of people who get forcibly removed from this nation.

It now will be an enforcement priority to consider for deportation anybody even suspected of a crime – even if the offending act is something as little as a traffic offense.
OBAMA: Longing for days of so-called deporter-in-chief

Many of the places that have declared themselves “sanctuary” cities or counties have done so because they want to try to put people at ease when they have encounters with the police. Trump would seem to want to use law enforcement as the equivalent of local government muscle to harass!

IT IS JUST a matter of time before we start having to endure the embarrassments of the past – history is filled with incidents of U.S.-born people of certain Spanish-tinged origins who got deported because someone didn’t care to make the distinction.

And yes, I think the Trump types are just clueless enough to repeat this mistake – which is about as far removed from making America “great” again as we could possibly get.

Because the latest memorandums include provisions that say people caught by the Border Patrol of the act of entering this country through the U.S./Mexico border can merely be thrown back into Mexico.

Even if they aren’t of Mexican citizenship! Which, believe it is not, does happen quite often.

BUT BECAUSE IN the minds of the xenophobes of our society, all those brown people must be Mexican, our officials think they can just do a dump. Even though it technically means we’re pushing people into Mexico with no legal status to be there.
BAYLESS: Restaurant closures warrant praise?

Would that make the United States responsible for creating a surplus of “illegal aliens” in Mexico? Would we be the cause of the problem?

I couldn’t help but notice the reports of recent days to the business response to last week’s “A Day without Immigrants” protests and boycotts of work – a lot of those small business owners seemed determined to show who the boss really is. Many people lost their crummy jobs as a result.

Which ought to make us show a bit of respect for those Chicago area entities that chose to respect the protest act and wound up closing down, which gave their workers the excuse to take the day off. It may turn out that we are lucky enough to live in a place where sanity and common sense prevails – which is something to keep in mind the next time Trump does a Chicago rant!

  -30-

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ill. '18 gubernatorial dreamer pool starting to winnow itself down to size

Cheri Bustos, the member of Congress from the Illinois part of the Quad Cities, has let it be known she is not going to be a candidate for governor come next year’s election cycle.
 
BUSTOS: Out, w/o ever being in

An announcement, I’m sure, that elicited a whole lot of yawns from political geeks, particularly those from the Chicago area, who probably figured that a Bustos candidacy wouldn’t have had a chance of succeeding anyway.

THEN AGAIN, I’M figuring there are probably many people who live in the other third of Illinois (a.k.a., downstate) who are thinking it equally ridiculous that 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar has delusions of someday being allowed to live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield.
PAWAR: Can he gain political traction?

Yet Pawar was the first person to declare himself an actual candidate – a status that Bustos never made it to. Even though there were some who figured that she had a chance to gain some votes just because she would have been the only significant candidate for governor from outside of the Chicago metro area.

Except that I think the kind of people who are inclined to want to vote in elections for someone from outside of Chicago are exactly the kind of people who will unite in 2018 behind Bruce Rauner’s re-election dreams.

Because his “Dump Madigan” strategy is really one that will only appeal to non-Chicago people. Those of us more urban voters will see the strategy for the nonsense that it is – because we know our local political officials aren’t nearly as united behind anybody, particularly the Illinois House speaker, as they want to believe.
Are we really destined for a Kennedy ...

IF IT TURNS out that Rauner dominates the rural Illinois vote, there might not be enough non-Chicago voters left for any other campaign to gain significant political support from.

The real significance of Bustos’ announcement that she prefers to run for another term in Congress is that the gubernatorial field is starting to shrink – even though we have just over a year before any votes are cast in that particular primary election.

Although it may still be a few months before the candidate field winnows down to where we can say who is actually running. And I still won’t be surprised if there’s at least one person who winds up running a serious campaign whose name hasn’t emerged yet.
... vs. Pritzker brawl to see who wins ...

I know some political observers are determined to view this upcoming election cycle as the Chris Kennedy vs. J.B. Pritzker primary. Although I’m pretty sure there are others of the Democratic persuasion who would wretch at the very thought.

THE IDEA OF the politically-top heavy family taking on the family with enough cash that they could afford to match the millions of his own money that Rauner says he will spend to try to get himself re-elected ALONG WITH a Legislature more to his liking than the incumbents.

They may think that a Democratic version of Rauner (ie., a rich guy) is the last thing the party needs, just like some Dems are going to forevermore be convinced that we’d be spared the thought of a “President Donald J. Trump” if only voters last year had dumped Hillary Clinton and gone with Bernie Sanders instead.

But then again, I wonder how many people aren’t going to be enthused about the notion of Illinois getting its very own Kennedy. The family has had members run for political posts in so many states, but our own local Kennedy tales focus on how Chicago supposedly “won” the 1960 presidential election for Chris’ “Uncle Jack.”

I don’t doubt that many voters will be desperately scouring all the other names in search of somebody, anybody, else whose candidacy they can latch onto in their desire to beat Bruce Rauner.
... the right to challenge Rauner come Nov. '18?

BECAUSE THEY FIGURE the absolute last thing Illinois needs is to have eight years without a budget. Yes, political people really are capable of being that stubborn, unless voters themselves take matters into their own hands at the ballot box.

I really do believe that Rauner is vulnerable because of the inability of state government to operate the way it’s supposed to. While some will be willing to blame Madigan, this is still an urban-leaning state politically.

But the inability to pick a credible candidate to challenge Rauner is most definitely why no one should write off his chances of getting “four more years” and giving us voters more partisan agonies to endure.

  -30-

Monday, February 20, 2017

EXTRA: Can the Cubs really have a rivalry w/ a ball club called the ‘Nats?’

We want to be the team knocking them out
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals outfielder

  -0-

Harper shot off his mouth, can he back it up
I suspect that at the Mesa, Ariz.-based spring training camp of the Chicago Cubs, somebody has tagged the newspaper clipping  (or maybe a computer printout) on a bulletin board of the Chicago Sun-Times’ story about the upcoming season for the Washington Nationals.

For while Cubs fans want to believe that last year's World Series victory was merely the beginning of a dynastic era that will rival the 1990s stretch of success experienced by the Chicago Bulls and could also top anything the New York Yankees have ever done, it seems that other National League teams want to think of the Cubs as one-and-done.

THAT VIEW EXPRESSED above was that of Nationals’ star Bryce Harper, who says his ball club is determined to be the one of success in coming years. The Cubs’ championship string will have to come to an end at one – or so says Harper.

Now I don’t know if that’s true. If anything, the Nationals of recent years have had contending teams that kept falling short. But if they do manage to contend, it would make that Aug. 4-6 series at Wrigley Field (when the Nationals make their one-and-only appearance in Chicago this season) all the more interesting.
Some Cubs fans already see '16 as greater

I’m sure the Cubs’ boo-birds will be sure to remember that particular line and try to use it against Harper when he plays in those ballgames. Particularly if he winds up having a sub-par season in 2017; it will definitely become a taunt that he’ll never live down at Wrigley Field.

Although it could make him a fan favorite on the city’s South Side, where Chicago White Sox fans would love it if his taunt takes on a taint of truth. It’s just a shame for Harper the Nationals aren’t scheduled for an inter-league game against the Sox this season.

OF COURSE, PART of Harper’s trash-talk against the Cubbies could be in reaction to the reports that it was the Cubs that employed a strategy last year when playing the Nationals that may have caused Harper to start off the season with a slump.
Dusty victory in '17 would ruin his Chicago rep

Specifically, they intentionally walked him so many times that he set a record for the most times getting on base without registering an official at-bat. Which allegedly threw him off his game.

All I know is that Washington is managed these days by Dusty Baker, who may have led the San Francisco Giants to a World Series appearance, but fell short during his time with the Cubs. Remember 2003?

I’m sure if Baker finally achieves a World Series managerial victory with the Nationals, thereby giving Washington, D.C., its first such victory by any team since 1924 and it is perceived at coming at the Cubs’ expense, it will be all the more reason for Chicago Cubs fans to despise the Nats and Dusty Baker far more than we ever will care about anything Donald J. Trump says or does!

  -30-