Wednesday, June 20, 2018

J.E.B. who? It’s now going to be Obama Elementary in Richmond

It’s not new, or particularly newsworthy, that yet another school somewhere in the country has chosen to name itself after the nation’s 44th president. Heck, there are some 44 schools that already bear the moniker of Barack Obama.

OBAMA: Now has a Richmond school in memory
Yet most of those were new school buildings erected in recent years, and often in places where the locals never would have put the name symbolizing the Confederacy of old on a public structure.

WHICH IS WHAT makes the newly-named Barack Obama Elementary School in Richmond, Va. – named for our very own community organizer-turned-U.S. president, all the more unique.

For until now, the school had bore the name of J.E.B. Stuart – who didn’t even live to see the end of the Civil War, but during the conflict between the states was regarded by southern interests as a skilled horseman and cavalry officer and one of the supreme military officials of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Of course, to everybody else, J.E.B. was just some ol’ white guy who once had the nerve to take up arms against the United States. An act of treason, if you want to be literal about it.

All because he wanted to reinforce the “way of life” that the South always proclaimed – the one that kept non-white people in a status of second-class citizenship. As in the South wanted them counted in the population to boost their total but wasn’t about to give them the same rights of white people.

BUT THERE WERE those who subscribed to the theory of “the lost cause” when thinking of the Civil War who were determined to pay tribute to every possible Confederate figure to try to glorify why they fought against the United States.

So the idea that J.E.B. Stuart could get a school named for him? Have generations of children thinking of him as a figure worthy of respect? I’m sure some would argue it no more ridiculous that I went to elementary schools in the Chicago area named for generals George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But times truly are changing. No matter how much some want to think this Age of Trump offers credibility to their cause, it seems the day will come when we can dump the Confederacy glorification.

STUART: Now just a figure of the past
We now pay tribute at this Richmond school to the first non-white man to become U.S. president – a concept that I’m sure infuriates the Confederacy-backers and probably has them backing Donald Trump’s actions in large part because they seem determined to erase the memory of Obama’s presidential actions.

BUT MAYBE IT’S just the evidence that the Obama legacy just can’t be erased – and that the Trump presidential legacy ultimately is determined to be his failure to undo the actions of recent decades. No matter how much he tries.

Personally, I find the idea that a Richmond high school is making such a gesture. For that Virginia city once served as the capital during those four years the Confederate states tried declaring themselves to be an independent nation.

Now, of course, Richmond is nothing more than a state capital for Virginia – no more important on the national political scene than Springfield, Ill. Our very own state capital city that gave us the figure of Abraham Lincoln.

Who lives on bigger than any of those grey-clad Confederates who touted the concept of ‘states rights’ not so much because they wanted separate nation-states but because they didn’t want anybody else interfering with their ability to back certain acts of immorality with the rule of law.

TO THE PEOPLE who still, to this day, try to justify the Confederacy, I’m sure the idea of an Obama School in Richmond is the equivalent of phlegm being hocked into their collective face.

Do we need more Lincoln Schools in South
But to the vast majority of us, it’s a sign that we’re finally, long-overdue, ready to move on from the mess that bogged down our nation some 150-plus years ago, and which some continued to tried to fight for during the following century-and-a-half.

Besides, just think of the mental chaos to be created for future generations who try to justify Confederate rhetoric while explaining the existence of Obama School.

While the memory of James Ewell Brown Stuart fades further into the past. Seriously, with all those names, it’s no wonder people just called him “Jeb.”


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Who’s to say which way our political structure will lean after Nov. election

A lot of it depends on who you desperately want to believe when it comes to the way our political structure will favor which interests in the foreseeable future.

High court maintains status-quo, for now
There are those people who desperately cling to the concept that the majority of us who despise the concept of “President Donald Trump” will gleefully dump anybody aligned with him.

YET OTHERS POINT out the fact that various polls show Trump’s unfavorable ratings only go so low – and that it seems the people who voted for him in 2016 remain pleased. In large part because they like the idea of the vast majority of us being offended by his political presence.

There’s even one political observer who is now saying that if Democrats can’t regain control of Congress (particularly the U.S. Senate) come November, they, “could lose Senate control indefinitely.”

A large part of the issue/problem (depending on how you want to view it) is that many states have their congressional district boundaries drawn up in ways meant to favor Republican political establishments.

And in the states where Democrats prevail (including our beloved own Illinois), they spew the talk about needing “reform,” which in their view amounts to dumping Dem (predominantly urban) interests to shift control over to Republican Party officials.

IT IS WITH that background in mind that the Supreme Court of the United States was called upon to rule in some serious cases – with some partisans desperately hoping the high court would cause the undoing of some of those Republican-leaning states.

Including our neighbor to the north in Wisconsin, where I remember it wasn’t all that long ago the state was viewed as some sort of liberal bastion but now has a Republican establishment entrenched to the point where no partisan would want to leave Illinois to go to “the Badger State” – even if they were University of Wisconsin alumni.

Yet in the end, the high court made a point of issuing rulings that did little, if anything, to change things in Wisconsin or Maryland.

TRUMP: System rigged in his favor
It’s almost as if the court, which theoretically has its own 5-4 conservative-leaning majority, did not want to make any radical changes. As if they’re content to let the status quo of politically partisan politics remain.

THE WISCONSIN CASE is particularly intriguing in that Democrat-aligned political interests tried suing the state, saying the entirety of the congressional districts were drawn in ways to ensure some places were so overwhelmingly Republican and that they’d be the majority – even though places like Milwaukee and Madison theoretically provide large bases for Democratic Party voters.

The high court wound up ruling it improper to challenge the state’s whole composition. Instead, we’d have to have individual lawsuits against each individual congressional district.

That’s a lot of legal activity and guaranteed to consume plenty of time. As if the high court wants to be sure there’s a serious delay before they’re confronted with having to make a significant ruling on the merits of letting political parties draw boundaries to favor their own interests.

There will continue to be cases before the courts, as it appears another case involving the situation in North Carolina is still pending. But unless we get some radical change, it is likely that the one thing Trump has going in his side’s favor is that a majority of the states are rigged in ways to favor those who believe in this Age of Trump we’re now in.

THE IDEA THAT a majority of us are appalled by a president who sees nothing wrong with the conditions that now result in seizing children from their parents as they try to enter this country may not be enough to dump him.

And on a more local perspective, keep in mind this issue will be considered key by some partisans in the Illinois elections this year. Because whoever manages to win the governor’s post will be the one who gets to preside over the reapportionment process when Illinois goes through it again in the early 2020s.

RAUNER: Wants to rig Ill. in his favor
I’m sure some Republican-types who might be appalled personally by much of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s behavior will force themselves to vote for him just so he’ll have a “veto” over any Democratic-leaning map the Dem-leaning General Assembly is likely to pass.

Of course, it will be a Dem-leaning one because of the fact that Chicago’s metropolitan area comprises about two-thirds of the state’s population – a fact that oft bothers those in the other third who can’t understand why the whole world can’t be filled with people just like themselves. Which is actually a too-common attitude among people who think that all politicians are crooked – except for theirs!


Monday, June 18, 2018

Summertime, when living is easy, and some see chance to justify strip joint

One of the things I enjoy about a Chicago lifestyle is the maze of weekend events we always manage to have take place during the summer months.
DANIELS: Gave political pervs a show

Yet I wonder if the most offbeat event of them all was the one up at the Admiral Theater – the one where Stormy Daniels, an exotic dancer, is trying to take advantage of her “15 minutes” of fame to bring in as much money as she’ll ever earn.

DANIELS IS THE sexually-explicit dancer/performer who has her fame because of rumors claiming she had an affair with now-president Donald Trump, back when now-first lady Melania was pregnant with their son, Barron (he’s now 12).

There also are stories claiming that Trump paid her off (supposedly $130,000) to keep her mouth shut – stories that Trump backer and adviser Rudy Giuliani has claimed are not true and that we should ignore because a stripper like Daniels has no credibility. Even though many of us think Trump has even less.

Anyway, Daniels (that’s actually her stage name, the birth certificate reads Stephanie Clifford and has been identified in court documents as Peggy Peterson) is now traveling from city to city on what she’s calling her “Make America Horny Again” tour – and that tour was in Chicago this weekend.

Five shows in three days from Thursday through Saturday – and people with an interest in seeing just what kind of “T & A” the president gets aroused by turned out en force. Although many of the news reports (no, I've never had an editor assign me to cover a strip show) that took it upon themselves to “cover” the show pointed out the large number of women and gay people who turned out.
TRUMP: Wasn't welcome in Chgo this weekend

THE IMPLICATION BEING that people inclined to think our nation’s current president is a sleaze want to see for themselves just how trashy a tramp the Donald goes for.

Which probably says more about us as a society than it does anything negative about Trump, or Daniels herself. We’re willing to watch the sleaze and “tsk tsk” about it. Perhaps we get some false feeling that we’re above it all.

The Chicago stops did manage to create some controversy. For a while on Friday, Daniels quit. Or was fired. It wasn’t clear. Although the sides ultimately reached an agreement that resulted in her doing the five full shows she was under contract to do in Chicago.
GIULIANI: Does he have credibility any longer

I’ll give Daniels one bit of credit. Her show name may be a parody of the campaign slogan that many Trump backers still wear on their red caps, but she’s not trying to make a political spectacle out of it.

SHE’S PUTTING ON a sex show, and nothing more! Which probably upset the spectators who were expecting an anti-Trump weekend (one story found a man upset because he wanted his picture taken with Daniels so he could rub it in the face, so to speak, of his Trump-loving aunt).

In fact, the reason she nearly walked out of her Chicago gigs was she resented the attempt to have her perform on stage with a man who was a crude-looking Trump lookalike. She wanted the stage to herself, figuring the sight of her bared breasts was enough to attract attention.

No bad-wigged men were necessary. Besides, those of us who care have all heard the story about the time she is alleged to have spanked the future president with a business-oriented magazine. Do we really need to have it acted out for us live?

Although I’m sure some people were determined to see something sordid. If they weren’t perhaps they would have spent the weekend at the Puerto Rican parade in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, or the Uncork Illinois Wine Festival in suburban Oak Park.

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING offbeat that one can do on a summertime weekend in Chicago. It’s part of what makes this city such a joy to live in – even if the Trump backers can’t quite comprehend that fact.
LOZANO: Scored goal upsetting soccer/Trump fans

Although I have to admit that the summer temperatures that reached such intense levels on Saturday and Sunday made me look for every excuse to stay inside an air-conditioned house.

All the more reason I was able to enjoy World Cup soccer on Sunday and that 1-0 victory los Tricolores of Mexico managed to achieve over Die Mannschaft of Germany.

Which, considering all the Mexico-bashing rhetoric Trump has engaged in, is just as big a blow to the political blowhard’s rants as the Daniels traveling sex tour.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

A society of ‘dishwashers’ sees El Tri victories as a drop-dead to xenophobes

It’s a question I often hear – how can anybody who lives in this country possibly root for Mexico in the world of international soccer? Particularly since the Mexican national squad is considered to be an archrival of the U.S. national team.

This restaurant snub, ...
Yet then, all I need to see are little tidbits like the sign I saw Sunday outside a restaurant seeking workers to be reminded that every time we see an Equipo Mexico win, it upsets the sensibilities of so many in our society.

PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO think they’re offending us when they go out in public wearing their ridiculous red “Make America Great Again” caps.

The fact that Mexico pulled off a shocking 1-0 victory over the German national team on Sunday (Germany is actually the defending World Cup champion, and so many Anglo pundits were determined to believe that Mexico was unworthy of a spot on the same pitch with Die Manschaft) was my ethnic brethren’s way of saying “Drop Dead!” to the nitwits who probably see nothing wrong with The Sign.

Which, I must admit, my father was the first to notice. We went out for a Father’s Day dinner (we all wanted a hearty meal, but nobody wanted to cook in Sunday’s excessive heat), and as we left, he pointed out what he termed a racist sign.

For the restaurant in question had two signs on their window – one in English and the other in Spanish. The English sign was a properly printed poster seeking a need for people to work in jobs as cashiers and counter-help.

… does goal make up for it?
THE SIGN EN Español was a makeshift thing that expressed a need for trabajador para lavaplatos. As in dishwashers. As in back-in-the-kitchen and out of sight of paying customers. Implying that such people wouldn’t be bright enough to speak English.

Although I’d wonder if there’s really an intelligence level between up-front and behind-the-scenes workers when it comes to a restaurant employee pulling minimum wage-or-less (and counting on a share of tips to make up the difference).

In the overall scheme of things, this is a lesser snub. It is almost laughable that anybody who thinks in such a way would be capable of running a business that doesn’t immediately delve into bankruptcy.
TRUMP: Another 'Drop Dead' target?

But then again, I still had the after-glow of watching the Mexico victory over Germany just a few hours earlier on Sunday. And in seeing that moment when television cameras panned over to the faces of German fans in shock that they had actually lost to “Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co!”

ONE THAT I watched largely on the Spanish-language Telemundo network broadcasts. I tried watching the Fox Sports 1 English-language broadcast, but quickly found it annoying to hear announcers complaining that the Mexican fans who made the trip to Moscow to watch their team in the World Cup managed to sing their national anthem in a louder, more boisterous manner than the German fans.

Almost implying that Mexican fans should be meek and accept their eventual defeat. Which didn’t happen, and which gave many people of Mexican ethnic origins a moment of joy.

Particularly in Mexico City, where seismic sensors detected a small earthquake – albeit of man-made causes, in the federal district. Which, coincidentally, matched up with the exact minute when Hirving “Chucky” Lozano scored the Sunday match’s lone goal in the 35th minute.

Chicago Cubs fans love to think the whole world was all worked up when they had their post-World Series victory parade to Millennium Park. Yet not even they managed to create a seismic disturbance of the likes we saw Sunday.
A cinematic moment when Mexico prevailed over Germany
I DO HAVE to admit one thing – I wasn’t alone on Sunday. I noticed while trying to order food a family – of whom the mother and three sons were all clad in various jerseys of the Mexican national team.

It has me thinking I’m going to have to go out and get myself an El Tri jersey – although I’m still trying to figure out which design I like the most.

Although I also have to confess it wasn’t a complete picture; the father/husband figure of the family?

He apparently is still living in the past of 2016 – he was wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey! I’d like to think the rest of his family was ashamed to be seen in public with him.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

EXTRA: Matt "Guitar" Murphy gets to "Think" about consequences of his life

Matt "Guitar" Murphy was a long-time studio session blues guitar player, appearing with such legends as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Memphis Slim, Etta James and James Cotton.

Yet let's be honest -- the reason most people would ever have heard him play was because he was one of the guitar players sought out by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd when they put together their parody of a blues band, The Blues Brothers. And the memory most of us would have of ever seeing him?
HE WAS THE "husband" to Aretha Franklin's Maxwell Street diner operator who was told (in song) to "Think" about the consequences of his actions. A scene from "The Blues Brothers" 1980 film that may well be played over and over on that future date when Franklin departs this realm of existence, but which wouldn't have been complete without Matt's presence.

And now, it's all over. Murphy died this week at age 88. In more recent years, he had put together his own self-named band. But a stroke had essentially pushed him into retirement. And now, he gets that eternal rest, where he can "Think!" about the lifetime he had, perhaps engage in a few afterlife guitar riffs with Jimi Hendrix, and maybe have Belushi himself doing that goofy little "fat man" dance of his while listening to the beautiful music being made.


Is there really a difference between a city neighborhood and a suburb?

That’s the question bopping through my brain these days, what with the questions being brought up about the mayoral aspirations of Paul Vallas.

VALLAS: Chicago enough to be mayor?
The one-time CEO of the Chicago Public Schools who also has worked in education in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Conn., has had quite a life in many places.

BORN IN CHICAGO, it seems that Vallas is like many a Second City native in that he regards Chicago as home and his life always manages to bring him back to us – even though his work life has managed to take him to several places.

In fact, Vallas had his long-time home in the Chicago area in suburban Crestwood – which was his residence when he ran for lieutenant governor back in 2014.

Which is why it shouldn’t be shocking that some people are already trying to take Vallas’ mayoral aspirations down for the count by trying to make it seem that Paul has no right to think of himself as a Chicagoan.

WMAQ-TV this week reported how Vallas’ mayoral campaign doesn’t seem to have an office in Chicago. Campaign literature does offer up an address in the Chinatown neighborhood, but the television station couldn’t find local people aware of any political presence.

THEY DID FIND evidence that Vallas’ brother, Dean, has business interests at that address, and also in Crestwood. It also seems the Vallas for Mayor campaign, as it exists, does have a bank account – at a financial institution out in Plainfield.

Which, for what it’s worth, is a suburb not even located in Cook County (it’s most definitely Will, where locals consider Joliet to be the BIG city nearby).

So is Vallas unfit to even think of running for mayor of Chicago? Are we going to get something similar to the political strategy back in the 2011 election cycle – when people tried arguing that Rahm Emanuel wasn’t really a Chicagoan.

EMANUEL: Residency issue didn't work
After all, he was raised in the North Shore suburbs near Wilmette and did live in Washington, D.C. back when he was working for presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and also serving in the House of Representatives – albeit representing a district that covered the Northwest suburbs of Chicago proper.

THAT EFFORT ULTIMATELY failed, in large part because the courts ultimately found that Rahm was registered to vote at the residence where he continues to live – even during much of the time he was working in the District of Columbia.

While Vallas made a point of moving to the Lincoln Park neighborhood several months ago – so as to establish city residency so he could even consider being on the mayoral ballot for the 2019 election cycle.

It may be a lame issue. But then again, when there are roughly a dozen people talking seriously about trying to get their names on the ballot next year to run for mayor, perhaps they hope it will stick.

Particularly if it only manages to sway a few potential voters into erasing Vallas from their mental consideration for their vote. A few is all it will take in an at-large election in which no one will come close to a 50-percent-plus-one majority.

NOW I REALIZE why municipal elections are open only to city residents-proper. Suburbs have their own local governments. People ought to have a stake in the communities whose government business they want to do.

But there is a part of me who wonders if we ought to think of places like Calumet City, Cicero or Evanston as being similar to Hyde Park, Austin or Lake View. In terms of being small communities that comprise the greater entity otherwise known as the Chicago metropolitan area.

The idea that the Vallas campaign is at such an early stage it really hasn’t set up a full-time campaign office or established bank accounts for itself within the city proper for an election cycle that remains some eight months off (and we still have to vote for governor first) comes across as a non-issue.

Besides, if the Vallas campaign really is uncoordinated enough that it can’t put together a proper campaign office and account at one of the city’s bigger banks, then it likely is destined to become one of a fringe nature that we’ll most likely forget all about a year from now.


Friday, June 15, 2018

EXTRA: All-too-predictable, City Council gets new Latina member

Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a pick Friday to fill an aldermanic vacancy, and it seems that Hizzoner made about as safe an establishment pick as possible.

TABARES: Latest to move up to alderman
The new alderman of the 23rd Ward on the city’s Southwest Side is Silvana Tabares, who for the past five years served as a state legislator – a member of the Illinois House of Representatives covering one of those city districts that spills over a tiny bit into the surrounding suburbs.

WHICH IS WHY most Chicago-types regard a move from the General Assembly to the City Council as a political promotion – they no longer have to concern themselves with suburban issues.

Plus, they no longer have to worry about maintaining a part-time residence in Springfield or making the trip to work at the Statehouse. Unlike most municipal official types who’d view a state Legislature as a promotion of sorts from the mundane local issues they deal with.

But Tabares’ promotion was predictable in other ways. She replaces Mike Zalewski, who resigned his post last month because of the changing demographics of the ward.

The one-time ethnic composition that looked favorably upon a Polish-American person as one of their own no longer does so. The ward has about two-thirds Latino population (heavily Mexican-American, to be exact).
Emanuel and Madigan strengthen their hold … 

IN THAT REGARD, Tabares will fit in much better, while also boosting the number of Latino aldermen to 12 (roughly one-quarter of the council’s composition). Something that will allow Emanuel to bolster his credentials amongst Latino voters – whom he’s hoping will be a significant part of the voter base that keeps him in office for a third term come the 2019 election cycle.

It even helps boost the chances of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, since Tabares is also the state central committeewoman from the 3rd Congressional District – where she is the party counterpart to Madigan himself, who serves as the district’s committeeman. She's definitely not a "radical activist" type of politico.
… on power with their actions

Don’t be surprised if people start touting Tabares’ advancement to alderman as evidence that Madigan is of benefit to women and their political advancement.

What with all the Democratic officials who are providing tidbits of dirt that lean in the direction of sexual harassment, people will use everything they can to help cleanse up their image. While the political establishment manages to strengthen its hold on power in the process.