Thursday, September 29, 2016

Congress should have accepted veto; lawsuits won’t bring back loved ones

Honestly, the biggest surprise about the fact that Congress voted Wednesday to override a veto by President Barack Obama is that it took them so long to do so.
OBAMA: Congress should have listened

Obama is in the final year of his presidency and has encountered for most of his two terms a Congress controlled by Republican interests that has made it clear they see their purpose as political obstructionism.

YET IT IS only now that Congress could get its act together to put together the 60 percent majority needed for an override – by which it will get its way on an issue despite presidential objections.

It’s a shame because this particular issue is one time that Obama may have got it right, and the members of Congress will wind up giving in to the base sentiments of people whose own perspective might not be entirely calm and rational.

In this case, the issue at hand relates to the ability of people in this country to file lawsuits against foreign interests in our courts as they relate to alleged terrorist activity.

There are those who’d like to file lawsuits against Saudi Arabia interests whom they want to believe are involved with the actions of Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon.

THEY HAVE FANTASIES of a court issuing a financial judgment against somebody that they believe will provide vengeance that makes up for the loved ones they had who were killed in the violence of that day.

I don’t doubt they hurt. I’m just not sure what the point is of such lawsuits, since I can’t envision any Saudi interests or any other nation is going to care in the least what a U.S. court thinks, or rules!

Just as people here would be more than willing to disregard any foreign court that tried issuing a ruling against people here.

Which means that these court rulings wouldn’t really mean a thing – other than letting the people who file such lawsuits vent a little of their anger. A clogged court system isn’t worth it, even if it makes some people feel a little better about themselves.

THAT WAS THE basis of Obama issuing his veto of the bill that Congress previously passed. That, and the official reason given by diplomatic experts that all such a law would do is encourage people in other countries to file lawsuits in their countries’ home courts against U.S. citizens and business interests.

Which would mean a global collection of legal morass. Letting the lawyers loose to wreck havoc on each other. Just what the world really needs!

Because Congress – first the Senate, then the House of Representatives – want to go along with the people who dream it is possible to ever fully make up for the bad that happened some 15 years ago.

It was an overwhelming pair of votes that occurred Wednesday – to the point where it can be called a bipartisan measure to override Obama, Which is the reason there aren’t more overrides against this president – Republicans on their own aren’t large enough to blatantly reject everything presidential; no matter how much they fantasize about doing so,

THE PROBLEM WITH going along with this measure is that it encourages the vengeance mentality. Which, if you’re honest about it, doesn’t work. For people to recover from their pain, they need to let go of their hate.

It’s kind of like the death penalty, where you can put someone to death yet there will be family members of the “victim” who will persist in being angry. It may be the one aspect of the Catholic church teachings that makes the most sense; its opposition to capital punishment because of its opposition to vengeance.

The people who wind up filing these lawsuits that will now be permitted will wind up with nothing more than a hollow court ruling. It certainly won’t do a thing to bring back their loved ones.

Or ease their pain; which is supposed to be the whole point to begin with.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

EXTRA: Trump reaches out to Chicago of the past in brief city stopover

You don’t hear it said quite as often as it used to be; that Chicago has more Polish people living here than anywhere else except for Warsaw.
The voters Trump tried appealing to Wednesday

So perhaps it would take a presidential candidate whose campaign theme is to look to the past out of the belief that is where “greatness” for our country can be found to acknowledge the old days when Milwaukee Avenue was the cultural center of Polish-oriented neighborhoods where one could live out an entire life without ever needing to know English.

IT’S STILL POSSIBLE to get by without English in many ethnic-oriented parts of the city, although Polish is no longer the language of choice in those parts of Chicago.

All this is to say that Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who has made a point of singling out Chicago and the crime statistics for his rhetorical abuse, dared to set foot within the city limits.

While campaigning in Iowa and Wisconsin on Wednesday, he added in a surprise morning visit to the Polish National Alliance offices up on Cicero Avenue. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that he met with various Polish-American local organizations – commiserating with them as they adjust to a changing world in which they’re merely one of many ethnic interests in this city.

No, Trump wasn’t in the heart of Chicago/ Those offices are only a couple of blocks from the city limits near suburban Lincolnwood. Some might argue the area is more suburban-feel than city.

IT DOESN’T CHANGE my basic premise that Trump wouldn’t dare to set foot anywhere else in Chicago, and most likely isn’t the least bit concerned about such places.
One vote Trump won't get

They don’t fit his limited view of what the world ought to be like – one in which women don’t let themselves get all bloated and fat like that Miss Universe candidate he has feuded with throughout his campaign.

But I don’t doubt that Trump will view his visit as himself having the nerve to set foot in the heart of the very beast itself. Before he went off to the suburbs proper for a Bolingbrook appearance with people inclined to pull out their checkbooks and give him campaign contributions.

Then off to Iowa and Wisconsin, where Trump can actually dream he has a chance of winning Electoral College votes in his Quixotic campaign to resurrect a national greatness that most likely would be best preserved if we were to send him off packing past Nov. 8.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Alicia, an aspiring actress, has since become a U.S. citizen. Which gives her a vote on Election Day -- one that I'm sure she will put to use against Trump, who can't accept the fact she no longer looks the same as she did when she won his pageant some 20 years ago.

Ivanka does Chicago! Donald does Bolingbrook? Trumps in Chicagoland

We won’t be seeing Donald Trump anywhere within the Chicago city limits anytime soon, if ever, during this campaign cycle.
Trump sends 'better half' to Chicago for campaign cash

There’d be far too many people inclined to mock him mercilessly for his initial debate performance – particularly from those people who are convinced the lousy microphone system was, in reality, a case of a candidate with “the sniffles.”

AFTER ALL, ISN’T Hillary the one who toughed it out on the campaign trail while suffering from pneumonia, continuing to make appearances at a time when ordinary people would have been staying home in bed and whining for their spouse to bring them another bowl of chicken soup?

Trump likely will have to do more debate prep for his next appearance Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, and probably will put the squeeze on his vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, who has his lone debate event Tuesday at Longwood University.

But we in Chicago may get a taste of Trump this week – for it seems that daughter Ivanka is scheduled to make several stops in Illinois on Wednesday.

Those include an evening cocktail party/fundraiser in the city, along with a breakfast-type/coffee event in Quincy and lunch in Peoria.

MUCH IS BEING made of Trump’s recent comments implying he thinks Chicago’s homicide rate makes it a far-more-dangerous place to visit than reality reflects.

Is Donald scared? Actually, he’s probably more realizing that any assault he’d face in Chicago would be in the form of verbal harassment and insults. As we saw quite clearly during his first debate performance Monday night, he doesn’t like being questioned or criticized.

He likes to be the one who dishes it out.

Besides, I do find it somewhat odd that Trump may be in the metropolitan area (as in outside the city proper) on Wednesday. Supposedly, he’s going to show up in Bolingbrook for a political luncheon that twice already has been cancelled.

SOMETHING KEEPS COMING up that knocks the event off the schedule. Will Trump finally honor this commitment?

Considering that Bolingbrook, is some minds, is nothing more than the municipality that once employed Drew Peterson as a law enforcement officer, you’d have to question the idea that the community is all that safe.

After all, not many communities can claim to have one of their officers now serving a lengthy prison term (he’d have to live to at least 93 to ever be free again) for murder. Although it seems that Peterson is only a threat to the young girls who fall for him, thereby leaving Trump safe.

Anyway, back to Ivanka, who could be an interesting persona. There is evidence that she may be the one of all the Trump kids (the jury is still out on Trump’s youngest son, Baron) who amounts to anything – what with her corporate role with the Trump Organization and the fact she plays a significant part in the business.

HOW MANY WILL come out to see Trump’s eldest daughter? Will they bring their checkbooks and make donations to try to give Trump a campaign fund that comes close to approaching the many millions that Democrat Hillary Clinton will have access to?

And what kind of crowd will Trump himself garner. Politico reported estimates from Republican party leaders that some 400 supporters will be on hand for the suburban event. Although there’s always the chance that some activist types will want to show up to cause a ruckus.

We’ll have to see if Trump has a sufficient explanation for his less-than-stellar debate performance Monday night.

Or will it amount to little more than a gruff demand that the questioner “Stuff it!!!!” up a certain bodily sphincter? Ouch!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Soccer returns to Soldier Field?

It would be intriguing if the Chicago Fire could take over Soldier Field for a few days next summer.
Soldier Field has had varied uses throughout its existence

And no, I don’t mean I want to burn the stadium down. It may look hideous and freakish from the outside. But it still is a 60,000-plus arena that has housed many sporting and other historic events during its nearly century of existence.

I’M REFERRING TO the Chicago Fire professional soccer team that plays in Major League Soccer. That league has an all-star game every year, and Crain’s Chicago Business reported Monday how officials are negotiating with Chicago for use of the stadium. City officials have put a hold on Daley Plaza and Millennium Park’s Wrigley Square and Harris rooftop for the end of July – which is when the all-star game is scheduled for.

Even though the Fire themselves play in a stadium they had built for themselves about a decade ago out in suburban Bridgeview. For the all-star game (which likely would pit U.S. stars against a foreign team that would view the event as a chance for a U.S. vacation trip for its players), they want the vastness of an outdoor stadium with the massive capacity of a Soldier Field.

Considering that Bridgeview’s Toyota Park barely seats over 20,000 people, it’s quite a difference.

It was always part of the reason why I thought it a mistake that the Chicago Fire left the city for a suburban location back in 2006. I know the argument the team makes – that their crowds fit perfectly in their new stadium, but would get lost in the vastness of a Soldier Field.

YET A PART of me has always thought that the team ought to be striving for the level of success that they could pack ‘em in at a Soldier Field – rather than settling for the smallness of Toyota Park; which I’ll admit is a nice little stadium that I’m sure many second-rate teams would love to have as a home facility.
Soldier Field, when configured for 'futbol'

Perhaps having an all-star game at Soldier Field could be a first step toward moving at least a part of the Chicago Fire schedule back to the near South stadium, thereby creating the potential for Fire officials to start thinking of ways to attract the kind of crowds that would fill Soldier Field to an intimidating presence.

That will be when soccer can truly claim to have “arrived” in this country – when they can draw the kinds of crowds that the New York Cosmos of the old North American Soccer League used to draw (77.691 for a match on Aug. 15, 1977 against the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers) on occasion.

Or perhaps something like the 61,308 that the Fire themselves drew to Soldier Field for a July 23, 2011 match against Manchester United – an English team!

NOT THAT THE idea of soccer (real football, as opposed to that phony kind the Chicago Bears play ever so badly these days on the Soldier Field turf) ought to be considered alien.
'94 World Cup ceremonies at a jam-packed Soldier Field

I still recall when the World Cup international soccer tourney was played for 1994 with the United States as its host – and how Soldier Field was used as the site for the opening ceremonies and for several first-round games.

Germany and Spain fans, in particular, got to see their teams each win a match, then play each other to a 1-1 tie.

There also was the Copa America tourney, which in the past was for a championship of the South American continent but this year was expanded to include North American national teams.

HOSTED THIS YEAR by the United States, some of the matches were played at Soldier Field, with both Chile and Argentina both managing early round wins on the path to the championship game (fans in East Rutherford, N.J., got to see the championship game between the two, with Chile winning ultimately on penalty kicks).
A nice-enough stadium, but it ain't Soldier Field by any means
Heck, there even was a U.S. matchup against Costa Rica at Soldier Field, with a 4-0 victory for the Stars & Stripes on Soldier Field turf.

If you want to be honest, hosting a Major League Soccer all-star game would be a lesser event than those. Yet it still would be nice to see something involving “the beautiful game” taking place within the Soldier Field bowl.

At the very least, it would be a relief for Chicago sports fans who have come to associate Soldier Field with the weekly dose of agony every autumn as we watch “da Bears” lose, yet again!


Monday, September 26, 2016

EXTRA: Aaaughh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They may be on bubble-gun cards ...
I have to confess; I barely made it through about 10 minutes of the first presidential debate that took place Monday night.

I couldn’t take any more. The shouting at each other by the two candidates that seemed like the point was to drown out the opposition more than anything else.
THAT, AND DONALD Trump insisting that his “facts” were really factual, and that it’s the real world that somehow has it wrong. It all came across as such nonsense. I turned away.

... and think of selves as super-important, ...
I actually lasted a few minutes before changing the channel, then tried again about a half-hour later. Only to find I lasted even less time the second time around. Even though a part of me wanted to do the political equivalent of eating all my spinach, I couldn’t do it.

Part of it is that while I have found it interesting when I, as a reporter-type person, covered debates in person, watching them on television just seems so deadly dull.

They come across less as a real-live political discussion and more like staged hysteria. Particularly when you get blowhards like Trump and Hillary Clinton.

IT LITERALLY REMINDED me of that 1993 interview that late-night talk show host David Letterman did with conservative ideologue radio personality Rush Limbaugh and asked him, “Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and think to yourself, ‘I am just full of hot gas’?”
... but Carlos Sanchez was more thrilling!

I had to wind up reading the early news reports, and probably will check out some additional ones Tuesday morning, to figure out what – if anything – was said. Although I really suspect it was nothing of substance.

So what did I wind up doing? The equivalent of eating my dessert without finishing all my vegetables. I caught part of an “Everybody Loves Raymond” re-run (Marie found out that Raymond had a party in her house back when he was a teenager) and several innings of the Chicago White Sox’ victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Trust me. Home runs by Justin Morneau and Carlos Sanchez were more thrilling than anything that spewed from the lips of the Donald or Hillary, while debate moderator Lester Holt probably wondered to himself, “What did I do to deserve this?”


EXTRA: It’s beginning to look a lot like a strike will take place this autumn

We’ll know more come Wednesday, but it’s becoming more apparent that the Chicago Teachers Union is not likely to reach any contract agreement any time soon in their ongoing dispute with the public schools system.

Union officials on Monday let it be known the results of its recent vote over whether to issue a strike authorization. That’s the step by which the actual teachers give the teachers’ union leadership the authority to decide whether to call for a strike.

AS IN PICKET lines, protests and teachers chanting slogans that take the name of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in vain, all while parents get all peeved that they now have to find alternate daycare for their children – whom they had counted on being able to shuttle off to school.

For the record, 90.6 percent of union members took part in the vote, and 95.6 percent of those people voted “yes” to the idea of going out on strike.

In short, teachers are upset with the idea that school management has tried to make it seem as though it’s their greed that is causing the financial problems that confront the Chicago Public Schools system.

So after going through decades of leadership during the years of Mayor Richard M. Daley without labor disputes, it appears that Emanuel could face the prospect of his third strike to occur during his five years, thus far, as mayor.

THE NEXT STEP is for the teachers’ union’s governing body to meet, and that is scheduled for Wednesday. At that time, the union could proceed to approve the 10-day notice required by law of the teachers’ intent to take to the picket lines.

It also means the first day we could actually see picketing school teachers is Oct. 11 – one day after the official day for celebrating Columbus Day. Which means we could literally get the sight of picketing American Indian activists calling Christopher Columbus a slave trader and a tyrant, followed up a day later by the sight of school teachers coming up with nastier things to say about Emanuel.

There really is no love lost between the two sides, as most people perceive the Chicago Public Schools management as nothing more than a batch of lackeys doing the mayor’s bidding.
Is it all Rahm's fault?

One other potential issue, for those who are religious-minded.

TECHNICALLY, THE JEWISH holiday of Yom Kippur is Oct. 12, with certain aspects of its celebration beginning the night before.

Could someone who is Jewish and who teaches in the Chicago schools claim they’re not working because they’re honoring their religious beliefs? Or would they have to make their religious statement by not participating in the picketing that could place that day?

On a serious note, I realize there are real issues at stake in this labor dispute, and this one religious issue is likely to be a minor point, if significant at all.

But with the proposed cuts that union officials say will hurt special education classes, librarians, counselors, social workers and teachers’ aides – along with leaving many needed teachers out-of-work – we have to find some way of alleviating the hurt that likely is going to spill out publicly in coming weeks.


Is Hillary the ’05 White Sox? Does that make Trump equal of “Chief Wahoo”

In a way, it’s a shame that Hillary Clinton never had the sense to be a fan of the Chicago White Sox.
Will Hillary prevail this time?

The lady from suburban Park Ridge who as a child rooted for the Chicago Cubs and in recent years has claimed New York Yankees fandom is running a presidential bid this year that truly bears resemblance to that run for a World Series title that the White Sox made some 11 seasons ago.

AND NOT JUST because the Cubs’ current ownership is a family that has publicly declared its political loyalties in support of Republican challenger Donald Trump.

Daughter Laura Ricketts may have publicly stated her willingness to back Hillary, but the rest of the family has kicked in $1 million to a political action committee supporting Trump. Definitely proof of the old adage, “Money talks!”

Semi-seriously, I feel like Hillary is the political equivalent of the White Sox as she tries to hold on to a lead that various polls indicate is shrinking as Election Day gets closer and closer.

It’s almost like Election Day can’t come soon enough for her, and that the more time we have to contemplate, the more that some people become less bothered by the idea of a “President Donald J. Trump” occupying the Oval Office.
Clinton looks good in 'black and silver' of 'the Good Guys'

SERIOUSLY, REMEMBER THE days following the Democratic National Convention when Clinton had a big lead in so many polls and Trump had managed to make himself appear to be so boorish during his own nominating convention that it seemed the election, to quote White Sox broadcaster Ken 'the Hawk' Harrelson, “is ovah!”

Just like the White Sox of ’05 who, after four months of the season, had developed a sizable lead in the American League central division. It was at that point that baseball people started saying that the White Sox were so far ahead, they could play .500 baseball the rest of the way and it would take a near-miracle for the Cleveland Indians to catch up.
It's obvious Trump never pitched

Literally, the Indians would have to play ball those final two months of the season at a .780 clip in order to tie the Sox.

So naturally, what happened? The final two months saw the White Sox win 30 games and lose 31, just under a .500 percentage. While the Indians did the near-unthinkable – playing winning baseball at a .760 rate.

THEY STARTED WINNING big-time. It’s like they couldn’t lose. That 14 1/2 -game lead the White Sox had at the end of July at one point literally dwindled to a game-and-a-half. There were many pundits eager to predict that the ’05 White Sox were going to be remembered solely as an athletic choke.

Just like the political pundits now who are convinced that Trump will catch Hillary, despite all those people to whom the concept of a Trump political victory is anathema.

It took a strong burst at the end 8 wins out of 10 ballgames for the White Sox to guarantee they would make it to the playoffs, winning their division by 3 games. Is that what the upcoming debates are going to be the political equivalent of?
Is Donald Trump equally insensitive?

And yes, I don’t have any problem thinking of Trump as the equivalent of the Indians – the team that persists in using the tacky “Chief Wahoo” as its symbol. I suspect the same people who defend Wahoo are also Trump backers.

IS HILLARY CLINTON destined to hold her lead in the polls the same way the White Sox managed to hold their lead in the standings all the way through the regular season – setting the stage for that playoff run in which they whomped the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, then swept their way past the Houston Astros to win the World Series?

Which was a “historic” moment of sorts for the Chicago sports scene, what with it being the first World Series title for a Chicago ball club in 88 years. For all I know, some people may think that’s more historic than the “first woman president” we would achieve if Clinton can prevail.

Now I don’t literally think there’s some cosmic connection between Hillary Clinton and the Chicago White Sox of old.

But the similarity of wishing Election Day would come sooner, rather than later, reminded me of what I felt back in ’05 as that lead over the Indians kept declining daily just like all the various poll numbers.
Will Hillary be able to claim the same?

WHICH MAKES ME wonder if Hillary could use the same act that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen gave us when it became apparent that the Indians were NOT going to overcome the Sout’ Siders in their drive for a division title.

Because seeing a Donald Trump defeat after all the trash-talk and other tacky behavior (inviting Gennifer Flowers? Really!!! Thank goodness she showed more class than Trump and declined the invitation) he has engaged in would feel like The Donald, in the end, choked big-time!