Thursday, July 02, 2015

EXTRA: Will ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ become the new ‘Song of the South?’

The ongoing flap over the Confederate battle flag may have taken down a television show from my childhood – the TV Land channel that shows many old sitcoms and dramas has cut out its twice-a-day showings of the “Dukes of Hazzard.”

BACH: Puts Jessica Simpson to shame
You show, the show about a pair of good ol’ boys who run illegal liquor and are constantly being chased about by a batch of bungling boobs of local cops who make Barney Fife look like a dedicated law enforcement official.

OF COURSE, THE car they used in their chases was a bright red Dodge Charger with a battle flag painted on its roof. The merchandising done off the show included toy car replicas of that vehicle.

So with many people amongst official southerndom deciding they now will do what should have been done a half-century ago (do away with the battle flag in any official context), the channel apparently didn’t like that flag appearing repeatedly each and every day.

Personally, I don’t miss the show. I thought it was nit-witish when I was a kid, and other than checking out actress Catherine Bach’s long legs and tight tush I’d have no interest in ever seeing it again.

But I’m wondering if the show is going to wind up becoming glorified in the public eye for something it never was – some symbol of southern culture. If anything, if I were a southerner I’d want to sue someone for portraying the “land of cotton” as being so buffoonish.

WILL PEOPLE START missing the show and attributing to it cultural traits that it doesn’t deserve? Such as what has become of the old Disney film “Song of the South,” which tells the tales of Brer Rabbit and has Uncle Remus singin’ and shufflin’ along like a “good little negro.”

Just try finding it somewhere to watch these days
Sort of how actor Carroll O’Connor’s “Archie Bunker” character would describe all black people, only to be mocked right to his face by his “little goil Gloria” for talking so stupid!

The old racial line of thinking has caused theaters to quit reviving “Song of the South,” and even trying to buy a copy on video isn’t easy. Which causes some people to think the film is more deserving of praise than it actually is.

Bo and Luke and arch-nemesis Boss Hogg probably aren’t even worth the words I’m writing here. I’d hope it doesn’t get elevated to something it’s not worthy of.

Could this place 'Hillbillies' on blacklist?
BESIDES, I WONDER if this means people are going to start reviewing all the programs of the past to see which ones meet a modern sensibility.

Take “The Beverly Hillbillies,” where I specifically remember an episode where Max Baer’s “Jethro” character considers enlisting in the army, only to back away when he learns it’s the “Yankee army” and not the Confederate that he’d be joining.

I also found reference to an episode where Irene Ryan’s “Granny” character (who often touts the political abilities of Jefferson Davis) mistakes a Civil War film scene being shot for actual battle, and totes her shotgun along to get a few Yankees for herself.

Do we wipe out that one-time major hit show? Or maybe the “Andy Griffith Show,” where I recall an episode where someone tries to cash in a war bond that would financially bust Mayberry, only to find out the bond is worthless because it was issued by the Confederate government.

THERE WAS THAT whole 1960s era when CBS’ weekly lineup was filled with southern-themed shows. Do we scour “Green Acres” or “Petticoat Junction” to see which ones are bothersome?

Delightful? Or highly unsanitary?
Although I think the bigger question that rises from the latter show is one that was brought up in an episode some three decades later from “That 70’s Show” – How can they let those women swim naked in the town’s drinking water supply?

Then again, maybe if Bach’s “Daisy Duke” character had done the same in a few scenes, TV Land would be willing to keep that show on the air – regardless of what was painted on that car’s roof?

  -30-

Having to flee one’s home ought to be a disgrace on an Independence Day

I recall a day from back when I was a kid and my brother and I went with our mother for a day-long visit to grandma’s house.

Putting in overtime this coming weekend
What provoked this visit wasn’t any real desire to see the relatives. It was that there was talk of white supremacists feeling the need to come to our neighborhood in suburban Lansing and hold a rally of sorts, just a couple of blocks from where we lived.

NOW I DON’T remember the specifics of this particular rally, which would have been back in the late 1970s. I seem to recall a local radio personality (and by local, I mean someone on a suburban-based radio station whom most of Chicago would never have heard of) who got all worked up over “Roots” being shown on television.

So perhaps it was a batch of crackpots showing unity in their outrage over having some of the horrors of slavery in this country being illustrated on national television – and living on to this day on DVD.

Or maybe it was some other outrage the bigots felt. Quite frankly, those people rarely have any sense of logic about the way they perceive anything. So who knows what bothered them?

All I remember is that my mother didn’t want to be around. So off to grandma’s we went.

IF MY MEMORY is correct, that rally didn’t amount to much. I was told by people who didn’t leave that day that it turned into a few people yelling and shouting and screaming and pretty much making fools of themselves.

I do recall that when we came back home, there was quite a bit of trash strewn around the streets on the block where we lived. Much more than would be if it were just a neighbor’s dog running loose and getting into the neighbor’s trash cans.

But that was the extent. A fairly minor incident, and not one whose details have really clung into the crevasses of my mind.

Not everybody will view Independence Day in this way
Although that feeling of having to leave our home for the day because we didn’t want to get caught up as collateral damage, of sorts, popped into my mind Wednesday when I stumbled across a Chicago Tribune report about how some Chicagoans are planning weekend trips this weekend because they don’t want to get struck by stray gunfire.

I FEEL GRATEFUL that I have never lived in a South Side neighborhood where such an approach to life during the holidays is commonplace.

Although it strikes me as particularly odd that on a holiday meant to celebrate the ideals upon which this nation was founded (“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and all that jazz), some people feel the way to protect their lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness is to skip town.

Because there are those individuals who view Independence Day solely in the context of explosives and the chance to set off rounds of gunfire.

As a reporter-type person, I have seen the many holiday weekends in which people wind up getting picked off by stray bullets. I remember one incident where a bullet fired into the air wound up coming back to Earth about a mile away before someone got shot (although the oddest incident I recall from my police reporter days was the naked woman being chased around 95th Street and Western Avenue on a New Year’s Eve some three decades ago).

THE NEWSPAPER REPORTED about how there also will be extra police on duty this holiday weekend. Hospitals also are working to ensure they won’t be short-staffed if they get a sudden flood of gunshot wound victims.

It makes my one-time incident of having to see grandma for a full day seem kind of minor by comparison, because it wasn’t an annual tradition of a trip that we planned to make just to survive.

So while some people may think the quintessential Chicago holiday weekend is attending the Grateful Dead (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) concert or festivities at Navy Pier, keep in mind that some people think a successful holiday involves just staying alive.

  -30-

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Is U.S. of A. ready for a socialist prez? Or, can Hillary be thwarted again?

We’ve been hearing the rhetoric about how Hillary R. Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president for so long that it feels like it already has happened.

SANDERS: The next Obama? Or Bill Richardson?
Which is probably why there are some Democrats who are eager to find someone else, anybody else, to nominate for the 2016 election cycle.

IT SEEMS SIMILAR to 2008, when the then-former first lady and senator from New York tried running for president by creating the sense of inevitability. She was going to happen. Resisting was a waste of time.

Except that we got the whole Barack Obama phenomenon and a long, drawn-out primary that resulted in Hillary having to settle for Secretary of State (which actually was the best move in that it gave her a legitimate legacy of her own).

This time, Clinton is once again pushing that sense of inevitability – to the point where people are pushing the theme of the general election being between Clinton and whichever of the 15-or-so nitwits running on the Republican side manages to get that nomination.

But then we’re getting Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont who has put himself into the mix for the Democratic Party nomination – even though he’s technically NOT a Democrat.

SANDERS, FOR THOSE who haven’t paid much attention, is the guy who actually ran initially as a socialist. Although he now goes out of his way to declare himself to be a political independent – even though he usually falls into the Democratic caucus for practicality’s sake.

CLINTON: Is it finally her turn? Will it ever be?
I’m sure there are those people who are now thinking to themselves, “There’s no way this country elects a socialist as president.”

Then again, I’m sure they were arguing seven years ago that, “There’s no way this country elects a black man as president.” Besides, there are those people who like to use the “independent” label politically that they may give Bernie a second glance.

The times (to quote Bob Dylan), they are a changin’. Just look at last week, where the people who rant about the merits of the Confederate battle flag got reduced publicly to the level of the crackpots that many of us always knew they were.

POLLS SHOW THAT Sanders may not totally get his butt whomped against Clinton. A poll by WMUR-TV in Manchester, N.H., had Clinton leading Sanders by 8 percentage points. Also, it had 45 percent of those surveyed saying Sanders “cares the most about people like you,” compared to 24 percent who thinks Hillary is more like them.

WALKER: His turf's being invaded Wednesday
Of course, you can argue that with Sanders being from New Hampshire’s neighboring state, he ought to be competitive against Hillary.

Similar to how back in 2008, the campaign started up with an Obama victory over Clinton in the Iowa caucus in large part because Iowans had heard of the senator from neighboring Illinois.

Perhaps he ought to be running neck and neck with Clinton. Then again, there is still eight months before people have to start actually casting ballots. Who knows who will change their minds between now and then? Voters can be so fickle!

SO WHAT SHOULD we think of Sanders – who on Wednesday will be the focus of a rally in Madison, Wis., where he’ll also be able to get on the nerves of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who on Tuesday put out his latest fundraising plea for his own presidential fantasies. Sanders won’t be alone.

There will be members of the Chicago Southland for Bernie Sanders on hand, people from those Far South Side neighborhoods and surrounding suburban communities who will deem it worthy of their time to get on a bus bound for Wisconsin.

They’re even talking about sending people to Iowa to do the legwork of campaigning for Sanders. Who does have a gap to fill – one national voter poll had 59 percent backing Clinton to 15 percent for Sanders.

Then again, I recall back in ’07 when Obama’s name recognition nationally was nil (“Wasn’t he the guy who gave a speech at the Democratic Convention?,” was probably the way most people thought of him). That’s probably the same fantasy the Sanders backers are having now.

  -30-

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Will redistricting be the compromise?

I have written on several occasions that I am skeptical of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s rhetoric concerning political reapportionment.

He has pushed for creating an independent body that would take over preparation of the maps that detail boundaries of political districts. Of course, the definition of “independent” can be open to interpretation.

It's not just a Texas issue. Provided by Texas Politics Project.
AS IN I wonder if it means anyone “independent” of the current political leadership who would deliberately favor the current political minority. It makes me suspect it to be an effort to undermine the current process – by which the boundaries are drawn by the legislators who (theoretically) are the representatives of the people who elected them.

In short, the people who couldn’t win the elections are now trying to find a new way to win – rather than going out and winning the election themselves.

So it is with some interest that I try to figure out what the significance is of the Supreme Court of the United States’ latest ruling on Monday – one that rejects the Arizona Legislature’s efforts to strike down the state Independent Redistricting Commission. It was created following a voter referendum, and was meant to take away the ability of legislators to draw political boundaries to favor themselves.

Although the real harm from the current process of redistricting is when politicos draw boundaries meant to screw over their opposition.

THE HIGH COURT on Monday ruled that there is nothing preventing a state from implementing a redistricting procedure that relies on someone other than the legislature to do the dirty work of political map-making.

RAUNER: Did high court give him a boost?
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that officials in California are viewing the ruling as supportive of their own state’s efforts. Which makes me suspect Rauner was very happy as well.

The governor now has a very high authority (the same one that pleased progressives by backing healthcare reform AND gay marriage just a few days earlier) in his favor.

Could this become the measure that makes Democrats now hostile to Rauner for his anti-organized labor rhetoric a little bit willing to compromise? Heck, could support for this Rauner desire become THE compromise issue that allows for the state to get something resembling a budget compromise in coming weeks?

OF COURSE, I’M not thinking that Democrats in the Legislature would back something meant to deliberately undermine themselves. I suspect we’d have to get a commission that wasn’t so blatantly biased in favor of any political party.

MADIGAN: He'll figure out way to protect self
Because the honest truth is that there is no such thing as absolute non-biased. Everybody is going to have their preferences they will want to favor. And for those who suggest a computer to take the human element out, I’d question the biases of those people who program the device.

But is the fact that this issue appears to have some sticking power means Democrats in this state ought to try to get a grasp on it so that it doesn’t wind up being implemented in a completely hostile form.

Otherwise we’re going to continue with the current format in Illinois, which is one that always amazes political people elsewhere – the idea that the balance of power can (and often does) fall to the draw out of a hat (or, one time, from a crystal bowl once owned by Abraham Lincoln).

IT WAS PUT into the state Constitution that way because it was believed that the fear of an all-or-nothing draw, with someone getting nothing, would be so fearsome it would force people to cooperate.

Instead, the greed of political people and the chance that they can get everything at the expense of their opposition has turned out to be stronger.

I don’t doubt that some Republicans are viewing the 2018 gubernatorial election as being all-important because it would give the GOP a veto come the 2021 reapportionment that could result in them having a chance at the “all-or-nothing” prize.

Which could also influence the Dems with their current veto-proof majority that prevents Rauner from being able to push his ideological will down their throats to consider this issue further – because nothing lasts forever.

  -30-

Monday, June 29, 2015

Time passes, but ideologues use same nonsense to try to justify themselves

It is a line of logic I have heard so often from so many different conservative ideologue pundits that I don’t know who deserves credit (or blame, if you prefer).

A colossal mistake?
It is the theory that the whole Civil Rights movement and the passage in 1964 of the Civil Rights Act was a mistake because it antagonized the “right” into being so opposed to the idea of equality for all regardless of race.

I HAVE HEARD it said that the Second World War was a major change on our society that forced people of different races together. It would have caused a gradual change that eventually would have brought about some form of integration.

Letting black people agitate and political people use the rule of law to thwart those people who insist the “American Way” of life is a segregated one caused distrust and hate. Black people harmed their own interest, and brought upon themselves all the ill will some continue to feel upon them.

Which is a load of nonsense!!! This was a case where someone was going to have to force upon the ideologues the sense of equality that our nation theoretically is based upon.

So excuse me for thinking that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and other ideologues are full of it when they suggest that gay activists screwed themselves over by pushing for gay marriage and having the high court implement it with their 5-4 ruling last week.

IT’S LITERALLY THE same line that society was gradually headed in their direction, and how people would have become accepting enough that we eventually would have had Legislatures in all 50 states enact something to wipe out their old laws that prevented marriage from being valid for gay couples.

Now relegated to the 'junk' drawer?
“Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept,” Roberts wrote in his legal dissent to the high court’s ruling.

While Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote of how the desire by gay couples to marry shows just how much they respect the institution that they want to be included, Roberts insisted for the record that equality is not a Constitutional issue.

There also was Justice Clarence Thomas, who argued that people cannot be demeaned by the actions in opposition to their desire for gay marriage. Then again, he also argued that the Negro slaves of old “did not lose their dignity because the government allowed them to be enslaved.”

Put sign next to Klan robe at Smithsonian
OF COURSE, IT means the government loses any dignity and respect it might want to claim for itself by permitting such things.

As for the people who want to complain that five justices imposed their will on the masses, that is nonsense. Because the whole point of the balance of powers between the branches of government is that it is the courts that resolve disputes and intervene when the legislative and executive branches act improperly.

Which is what one can say was the situation where some states, including our own Illinois, willingly implemented gay marriage, while others such as Indiana had to have it forced on them by lower courts and a few states where the Confederate battle flag prevails despite its repulsion by the masses were determined to be the holdouts – fighting the issue to the very death.

There are those people who were never going to be swayed on this issue – and were eager to use their powers of intimidation to ensure that political people of a cowardly nature would never take a firm stance on the issue, one way or another.

SO IT ONLY became natural that the Supreme Court would have to intervene. It can be argued that had the court taken the approach its minority suggests, it would have been neglecting its duty.

Will we get 'gay marriage' coin in 2065?
On Sunday, we got to see a wilder-than-usual celebration at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. The annual event’s timing just two days after the high court’s ruling made it an occasion for the act’s backers to let their joy out in public. I don’t doubt the parade images will offend certain people who will never get over what the court did.

Then again, isn’t the fact that this issue is now resolved legally so we can start the process of moving forward the ultimate benefit.

Or do you really think we’d be better off on racial issues if the civil rights movement of a half-century ago hadn’t happened and we still had pockets of the country using “state’s rights” rhetoric to justify segregation?

  -30-

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What happens now that sanity has prevailed over Supreme Ct., society?

Back in the days a half-century ago, you knew you were passing through “nut country” when you started seeing the billboards reading “Impeach Earl Warren.”

Would you have wanted to receive this postcard in the mail?
Referring to the one-time chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States who presided back in the days when many of the significant civil rights decisions were made.

IT WAS THE opinion of certain people in our society that the court should have been enforcing “the law” by striking all these actions down. Instead, the Warren-era court helped advance us out of the days when segregation was considered an “all-American” value of our society.

Those people are largely dead. By and large, it’s their grandchildren who are now the overly-vocal ideologues who are trying to perpetuate a certain vision of what the United States should be about.

And their vision took two highly-visible blows from the Supreme Court this week – the high court issued a final ruling that upholds the attempts by President Barack Obama to impose health insurance for all and strikes down a lower court ruling that tried to keep laws in place against gay couple from being legitimately married.

The end result is that gay couples can now not be denied a marriage license in places like Alabama and Mississippi. And the political people who will continue to strike down the Affordable Care Act that provides for subsidies to help people in need afford health insurance will have to admit it’s their own personal ideological hang-ups at work – and not any legitimate flaw in the law.

HOW LONG UNTIL we start getting the “Impeach John Roberts” billboards popping up in crackpot land?

ROBERTS: Will ideologues blame him?
Roberts is the Supreme Court justice appointed by a Republican president who was supposed to keep the high court’s rulings in tune with conservative ideologue desires, but wound up siding with health care reform because he saw how ideologically-motivated its opponents were.

To someone who is concerned about the letter of the law above all else, it makes sense to be scared off by ideology.

As far as gay marriage is concerned, Roberts was among the justices opposed to the idea. Although he wasn’t able to persuade a majority of the court to back him. To the ideologues, what good is being “chief justice” if you can’t strong-arm your colleagues into doing what you want?

SO THEY’RE BOUND to despise him. Even though the bulk of the country will wind up supporting him.

KENNEDY: 'Equal dignity'
Because both of these issues are ones of great importance to our society.

The lack of health insurance by people is a problem that hurts us all because the fact that the United States offers access to the best health care in the world doesn’t matter much if one can’t afford it. If those people wind up relying on emergency rooms for their health care, then being unable to pay the bill, the public will wind up paying.

As for gay marriage, I honestly feel it’s none of my business who someone else wants to marry. I don’t think it is anybody’s business what a couple does. Until the day comes when a man is forcibly married to another man (or woman to woman) against their will, this isn’t an issue for the law to be concerned with.

THE COURT WOUND up siding the way they did, despite the outspoken criticism of justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia – the latter of whom was once a professor of the same University of Chicago Law School that Obama was once an instructor at.

Scalia was particularly snotty in his written diatribe against the gay marriage ruling, saying the line of logic used to defend marriage, intimacy and spirituality as Constitutionally-protected rights is at about the level of “a fortune cookie.”

As opposed to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the opinion that supported gay marriage, saying the fact that gay couples wanted to be able to marry was actually the utmost respect for the concept that they wanted to share in.

“Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions,” Kennedy wrote. “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

SCALIA: Will ideology die with him?
WHAT I SUSPECT truly bothers Scalia and his ilk is the notion that they were appointed by ideologically-motivated presidents whose intent was to create a conservative tilt to the high court that would long outlive them. Perhaps Scalia thought his ideological leanings would outlive him and become a permanent part of our society.

Instead, it seems the court would rather follow the law than his ideology that won’t even outlast his term on the Supreme Court, and he and his followers will be the ones “condemned to live in loneliness” that they ultimately imposed on themselves.

  -30-

Friday, June 26, 2015

EXTRA: Sandberg leaves Phillies, gets replaced by another w/ Chicago ties

I found it ironic to learn of Ryne Sandberg’s resignation Friday as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The long-time Chicago Cubs second baseman who went on to a Hall of Fame career for his play, then working his way up through the Cubs’ minor league managerial ranks before taking a top job with the Phillies got replaced by another Chicagoan.

IT SEEMS THAT Pete Mackanin, a Chicago-born guy, alumnus of Brother Rice High School and also of the University of Illinois at Chicago, will now finish the season for the Phillies.

Not that Mackanin ever played professionally for a Chicago ball club. The Washington Senators, Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos, Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins were the “big league” uniforms he wore.

Although Mackanin did finish his playing career with the Iowa Cubs back in 1984 (the year they won a division title with Sandberg as the guy who occupied the same position on the major league roster and would have gotten a big-league promotion if Sandberg had suffered some sort of season-ending injury).

It also seems that Mackanin’s own managerial career began with minor league stints with Iowa and the Cubs’ affiliate in Peoria, Ill., before moving on to other, more quality, professional baseball organizations.

DOES THIS MEAN that the Philadelphia Phillies are looking for a touch of Chicago Cubbie-ness in their future leadership? Particularly since Sandberg gave as his reason for quitting now a rumored change in the top leadership, as the Phillies reportedly are considering former Cubs general manager Andy MacPhail for their top spot.

If so, it will be quite a while before they return to the standards of 2007-08 when the Phillies won consecutive National League championships (and beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the ’07 World Series).
 
And too soon before they rival the Cubs for a string of less-than-stellar seasons of play.

  -30-

EDITOR’S NOTE: How long will it be before some crackpot Cubs fan suggests that the Cubs hire Sandberg to be their field manager – making up for the fact that the team passed on him several years ago when the position was open.