Thursday, June 30, 2016

Facebook for fluff, not the news?

One of the things I did awhile back was set up this weblog so that every single commentary I post here winds up on my Facebook page.

I suspect that for many of the people who have bothered to “friend” me on Facebook, it has nothing to do with them thinking of me as a real human being. It is more that a piece of copy I wrote caught their eye – and friend-ing me is an easy way to see if I come up with something else they consider relevant or interesting, or perhaps just downright silly and stupid!

WHICH IS WHAT I have always considered Facebook to be about – allowing people to indulge themselves in the trivialities of life.
Is Rocco cute enuogh to top Selena Gomez?

Particularly those that can be passed about from "friend" to "friend." I'm pretty sure a thoughtful commentary on my part about the politically partisan nonsense being spewed by public officials in Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday will be less regarded than if I were to post a picture of the dog my father and step-mother now care for.

The story of Rocco, I’m sure, would be more interesting to the Facebook kind of people than anything more legitimate.

It is why I’m not terribly shocked by the announcement Facebook officials made on Wednesday to say they’re making changes in the programs that determine what exactly makes it into the “News Feeds” that wind up on peoples’ personal pages.

THE EMPHASIS IS going to be placed on stuff that people choose to share with each other. The stuff that larger companies, including many newsgathering organizations that think the key to readership is Facebook, will be downplayed.

On a certain level, I get it.
Selena tops Rauner/Madigan ...
Facebook was originally created by college students as a social network one step up from the idea of passing messages along to each other via a particular computer’s network.

It wasn’t really meant for larger companies to use as a way of distributing their messages – or in the case of newsgathering organizations as an alternative way of disseminating their product.

I DON’T DOUBT that the most hard-core of Facebook users (the kind of people who are miserable if they’re not on some sort of device that gives them their access) are probably cheering at the thought that all the “boring” stuff will get less priority.
... any day of the week!
More cute, fuzzy pictures of kittens or pictures of our stupid cousin Johnny and the time he was foolish enough to stick a pickle up his nose – only to find that it got stuck (and that’s just a hypothetical, my cousin Johnny never actually did that – although he has his own share of silly moments he’d rather not share).

I know in my case, one of the most popular things I posted recently on Facebook was timed for Father’s Day; as in a decades-old photograph of my father with my brother and I.

Which actually fit in with all the other paternal pictures that people felt compelled to pass about a week ago – and will probably stash away for another year until Father’s Day returns.

STASHED AWAY BECAUSE they’re now rendered obsolete by the stories about singer Selena Gomez wearing a denim bikini in pictures on her Instagram account. There’s a reason they call these things “social media;” they’re not about anything significant – just titillating!

So I can’t quite get all worked up like some people are about how Facebook is supposedly undermining the free flow of information that people might need in order to live better-informed lives. That was never their purpose.

Just like anybody who seriously watches “The Daily Show” for news and information is worthy of any ridicule we throw their way – that program is about entertainment and generating a laugh at the expense of those in public life.

And perhaps at anybody who seriously thinks they can rely on their Facebook “News Feed” to give them the “News!”


EDITOR’S NOTE: How many people got their snoozefest, so to speak, at the reports about how newspapers across Illinois ran editorials Wednesday lambasting all state government officials for the fact that we’re about to begin Fiscal Year Two without a balanced budget for the state? Yeah, Selena’s gams were much more intriguing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Does overtime amount to overkill?

Chicago Police Department officials have come up with a new scheme for increasing police patrols in parts of the city considered high-crime zones – it seems that existing cops will be asked to work more overtime.
JOHNSON: More overtime sted of more cops
Specifically, the department has increased the number of areas designated high crime zones from 19 to 25. Existing officers will be asked to put in extra patrol time.

AND IT ALSO seems they’ll be asked to do so in zones that already are in the police districts they’re assigned to.

Which makes a certain amount of sense in that officers will be putting in this overtime in areas of the city they’re already familiar with. As opposed to past measures that could have cops bopping all across Chicago in an attempt to provide increased police patrols without having to actually hire additional officers to watch the streets.

As police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said on Tuesday to reporter-types, “It should give us more productivity and promote more community engagement.”

Yet the part of news reports about this action that caught my attention were the explanations that this increase in high crime zones is meant to avoid having to do extra hiring of people to work as patrol officers.

BETTER TO PAY the existing officers a few extra bucks in order to get extra work out of them. Which makes me wonder if public safety officials are adopting the same mentality that too many newspapers are taking on – fewer people trying to do the same amount of work to cover the news and publish a paper.

All of which is meant to enhance a publisher’s bottom line financially. What is the city’s excuse in taking such a cheapskate attitude?

Particularly with regards to the public’s safety and protection?

Realize I’m writing a criticism of relying on overtime knowing full well that the cops themselves probably will see a bright spot in the idea – they can use the extra money.

HECK, MOST COPS I have ever known have had some sideline way of bolstering their official income.

Whether it involves taking extra shifts or doing security-type work during their off-hours, I can’t think of a single police officer I have ever known who relied solely on the income he or she received from his official salary in order to ensure they were capable of “covering their nut” (a.k.a., meeting their living expenses) in life.

But the basic concept of police work and providing adequate protection, particularly in a city as large as Chicago, involves a significant amount of manpower – or should I say person-power?

There’s only so few people the city can get away with employing before we have to wonder if there just aren’t enough citizens on patrol to adequately patrol the “mean streets” of the “naked city” (yes, I’m overusing clichés here).


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

If Trump wins, it’s our own fault

Various polls indicate that likely Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump lags behind apparent Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton by significant margins, and also has an overwhelming number of people who can’t stand the thought of him.
TRUMP: Only apathy makes him president

Yet the Trump-types are an optimistic bunch, particularly in the way they regard that British trend toward dumping membership in the European Union as a sign of their own inevitability.

BECAUSE THEY WANT to believe that the same attitude that caused many Great Britain residents to break away from a conflagration of European nations working as one is the same as their own candidate’s attitudes toward wanting to bolster deportations and restrict who is even permitted to be in this country.

Xenophobia and nativism are the themes they want to believe will prevail over all else. And the Trump campaign has certainly become the preference of the xenophobic and nativist amongst us!

So just what should we expect of the Nov. 8 Election Day and how things will turn out?

It really is in the hands of the people themselves to decide what direction our nation will head. I really do sense a significant segment of society that, when they bother to pay attention, is appalled by the garishness of Trump.

BUT “THE DONALD,” so to speak, has the advantage of people who are all worked up over his cause. Perhaps they really view it as a crusade – getting Trump elected as president is their version of a 21st Century holy war.

They are the ones who can be counted upon to turn out and cast ballots. It seems the conservative ideologue types in recent election cycles are the ones who have been most determined to participate in the electoral process.

Whereas it is the masses amongst us who have become lazy, apathetic, generally sluggish in caring what happens on an Election Day.

Many are the ones who either don’t bother to vote, or perhaps they figure the number of people who are disgusted by Donald and the thought of him prevailing are so numerous that their sole vote won’t be missed.

HOW I EXPLAIN the large number of people appalled by Trump to the point that they give Hillary Clinton, who was in Chicago as recently as Monday, overwhelming leads (usually double-digit) in all the polls is that they reflect people who can’t be counted on to show up at the polling places on Election Day.

If people do turn out, then Trump gets his clock cleaned, his behind booted, his hair mussed up so bad that it will cost him all his millions to have a hair dresser come close to restoring his garish appearance.

In short, he loses.

But if apathy prevails, then we wake up on Nov. 9 with a national hang-over of sorts, a lot of disgusted people who can’t believe that the concept of “president-elects Donald Trump” has become a reality.

YET IF IT turns out that it is apathy that leads to a Trump victory, then who do we really have to blame but ourselves? God may have the whole world in his hands, as the old spiritual says. But the outcome of this election is totally up to us – the electorate.

Which makes this election cycle all the more serious. Apathy is what the Trump types are seeking from the masses so that their own hard-core can be a large-enough group to prevail.

Apathy is what Trump wants to prevail, which is something I have always thought of as a sad trend in electoral politics. People not caring enough to take a simple little action.

Because in the end, apathy is really nothing more than our own fault!


EDITOR'S NOTE: The screaming-front page headline said it all: Hillary will never be president! Or so believeth the National Enquirer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

People ought to have enough sense to keep track of their own due dates

Excuse me for not being the least bit sympathetic to people who are now getting hit with late fees and other financial penalties because they miss deadlines in place for the various functions of the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.
WHITE: Not a bandit taking our $$$
These fees are occurring in part because of people who don’t file their applications for renewal of various functions on time because the secretary of state is not sending out as many warning notices via the mail to indicate that application deadlines are approaching.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reported how the amount of money being collected by the state in such fees is significant – nearly double.

Which has some people whining and crying about this being a scam on the part of the state – a way of collecting even more money from the taxpaying public than it is entitled to.

Which is a line of logic that I find to be a tad nonsensical!

I honestly believe that people ought to be capable of keeping track of things such as when their license plate registration expires or when the driver’s licenses need to be renewed.

UNLESS THEY HAVE the interaction quotient of a six year old who perpetually needs to have “mommy” nag them in order to get them to do anything on time, people ought to have some sense of when something is on the verge of expiring.

They ought to know when they need to renew. They ought to be able to have a clue, then figure out how to get to the secretary of state’s office on their own to do their business with the state.

The people who are crying and whining these days about the penalties they are paying are most likely just cheap people looking for excuses to get out of paying what they owe.

I can’t express the least bit of sympathy for them, and honestly believe that anybody who can’t comprehend this as fact is somehow clueless in their own right.

IT MAKES ME wish that stupidity could be a public offense for which people could be fined, or at least subjected to some form of public humiliation.

Seriously, how hard is it to remember that one’s license plates need to be renewed each year. One has to go to a secretary of state’s facility and buy that little sticker that goes in the corner of one’s license plate.

The interesting part comes when one has had a particular plate for years and has accumulated layer upon layer of registration stickers.

There’s also the renewal of a driver’s license itself – which occurs every four years on one’s birthday. That ought to be the ultimate in remembrance.

EXCEPT THAT SOME people are determined to be mentally lazy. You’d think they’d be too embarrassed to complain about the fines they pay because it makes them appear even more clueless/vacuous/lazy/inept or whatever other label one can think of than they truly are.

Which makes me think Illinois WOULD be better off without the roughly $5.2 million in revenues it collected more this year compared to than it did last year from people who couldn’t remember exactly when their license plates expired – AND also didn’t have enough sense to just look at their plate to see exactly when the sticker is set to expire.

It is printed right on the sticker, and my own sense is that people ought to pay attention to their own vehicle because the police certainly will do so.

And if they have to remind you by pulling you over for a traffic violation, you truly are worthy of any fines or harassment you get for such a petty offense.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Who deserves the political blows in upcoming Tammy Duckworth trial?

It has become the legal case that only political geeks will care about. Many of whom probably couldn’t tell you where Union County, Ill., is located without checking first on a map.
DUCKWORTH: Legal trial? Or political witch hunt?

I’m talking about the lawsuit currently pending against Democratic Senate nominee Tammy Duckworth because of some of her actions from back in the days when she was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

DUCKWORTH, HERSELF A veteran of the early 1990s version of a Gulf War who lost her legs as a result, has in the past been criticized for that part of her record. After all, it was then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich who picked her. So she has to be tainted; to listen to her political critics.

Most of whom object to her primarily because as a military-oriented person, they think she ought to be opposed to Democrats, rather than identifying with them.

In this particular case pending in the rural Southern Illinois county where Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the largest major city nearby, two former employees of the Anna Veterans Home claim they were punished on the job as retaliation for their personal politics.

The lower courts had previously rejected this lawsuit, but politically-motivated ideologues have been more than willing to do what they can to revive it. Which means the Illinois attorney general's office is required to continue to fight against it, and tax dollars continue to be spent on it.

AS THOUGH THE thought of the continued existence of a pending lawsuit is more important than actually trying to resolve the situation involving these two workers.

After all, what else can they use to beat Duckworth symbolically over the head with if not the image of a lawsuit claiming she mistreated military veterans?

Now I don’t know personally the specifics of the cases involving these two workers. I’m influenced heavily by the fact that it has lingered through the legal system for so long that it has become old and moldy.

So I found it interesting that the Chicago Tribune reported that the judge involved in the case, Mark Boie, wants the sides to come together for a pretrial conference out of hopes all the sides can come to an agreement and settle the case out-of-court.

IN SHORT, TURNING the Aug. 15 date back into just another one of the dog days of the summer – rather than the beginning of a civil suit trial that Duckworth’s opponents would just as soon see drag out into early-to-mid October.

After all, wouldn’t it be keen from their viewpoint to have the possibility of a negative court judgment coming down in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 elections in which Democrat Duckworth is trying to depose Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.?

Which is really what this case is all about.

It is why Kirk is eager to keep the case alive, and complained this week that any effort to settle out-of-court amounts to an injustice. He wants that day in court his campaign is desperate to believe will allow him to out-military Duckworth in the public eye.

WHICH IS REALLY a shame, since Kirk was the longtime Naval Reserve officer who had a military record of his own, even though there have been the past allegations that he tried to exaggerate his claims.

Certainly, I doubt Kirk or many other people really care if one of the women was fired from her job at the Anna facility as retaliation for allegedly complaining about her boss (she was later reinstated), or if another woman got a poor job review that cost her a pay raise.

This is about wanting to politick through the court system. And I’m sure the only thing that would shut up the Duckworth opponents is if the judge were to ultimately issue some sort of ruling in her favor! 


Friday, June 24, 2016

Is Supreme Court determined to show no bias by p’o-ing everybody?

The Supreme Court of the United States issued a pair of rulings on Thursday determined to give everybody something they can be truly appalled by.

The nation’s high court made a purely partisan political ruling that upheld a lower court’s efforts to interfere with President Barack Obama’s attempts at imposing reform of our nation’s immigration policies.

YET BEFORE THE ideologue twits who fantasize of the day they can deport all the foreigners out of the U.S. of A. could get themselves too excited, the high court dumped all over their desires with another case.

In that case, they upheld a lower court that had found fault with the University of Texas system and the way it took a student’s race or ethnicity into account during admissions.

This was provoked by the case of a would-be Longhorn who didn’t get accepted to attend that college, and claimed that as a white girl she was discriminated against because other people who were not white (and were nowhere near as qualified as she was, to listen to the racially-motivated ideologues) got her spot.

So which way do the ideologues lean?

ARE THEY HAPPY that the immigration reform measure got stalled? I doubt it. They’re such a miserable lot, those ideologue types, that I suspect they get their joy from complaining.

So they’ll be convinced that Thursday was a great day of disaster because some white girl (who as it turned out got into her Number Two choice of colleges and has since graduated and gotten on with her life) was devastated beyond belief – all to benefit a less-deserving non-white student.

This particular issue has always bugged me, perhaps because I remember how competitive the college admissions process can be (and I always considered myself fortunate to have been accepted by every college I applied to – including my top pick).

The fact is that the real sign of success is how one handles rejection throughout life. I’d argue the girl in this particular case did alright.

IT’S A SHAME she allowed herself to be used by ideologues determined to believe that the old order of society is somehow being picked upon because they’re no longer allowed to automatically prevail!

That particular ruling came out in favor of sense largely because one of the justices – Elena Kagan – had to recuse herself from the ruling because she was involved in arguing the case’s merits when she was U.S. solicitor general. Hence, we got  4-3 court ruling.

Otherwise, it could have suffered the same 4-4 vote that resulted in the high court messing with Obama’s efforts to deal with flaws existing in the immigration policy. Those people living in this country without valid visas who could show they have not caused problems while living here would have been granted work permits and would not face threat of deportation.

A concept that the ideologues find absolutely abhorrent. We might as well suggest that their political deity, Ronald Reagan, supported the dreaded “A” word of amnesty for immigration law violators.

WELL, ACTUALLY, HE did. Way back in 1986, although his policy didn’t go quite far enough in creating a sensible policy for newcomers wishing to come to this country – the fresh blood that our nation perpetually needs in order to maintain its high standards.
OBAMA: Another partisan political defeat

The court came down on partisan lines, and is being touted as the ultimate example of how the high court’s refusal to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia back in February is impacting policy negatively.

The vote was split even, meaning a majority did not uphold the lower court ruling. But a majority also did not uphold the president’s desires. In short, the issue remains in limbo. Something for political people to continue to quarrel over while real people are impacted negatively.

Which makes me wonder if that is truly the high court’s intentions these days – the ultimate ‘do nothing’ court for a society that at times seems to be going nowhere.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

EXTRA: Finally, someone willing to listen to Cong. Kelly on firearms

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., is the woman who got her seat in Congress when Jesse Jackson, Jr., got hauled off to federal prison, and one of her primary concerns as a member of the House of Representatives has been firearms.

She has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress when it comes to the need for federal restrictions on firearm ownership and combating the idea that the Constitution’s Second Amendment was intended to be an outright entitlement to all the arms one wishes to bear.

OF COURSE, THE Congress in recent years has been controlled by Republicans who actually believe the opposite and are prepared to fight off any efforts to impose sensible restrictions on deadly weapons.

Which means Kelly, from suburban Matteson, has been screaming into a vacuum, being ignored outright. That is, when her political opposition isn’t taking actions intended to show just how irrelevant they believe Kelly to be.

So it is in that context that I view the sit-in that members of the Democratic minority of the House of Representatives held this week to express their outrage with business as usual when it comes to laws regarding firearms.

Kelly wound up being one of the people who organized the tactic often used in the past to protest wrongs being done. Although it usually wasn’t members of Congress themselves who were able to see the wrong itself!

OF COURSE, PERHAPS it is the 300 people who have died in Chicago due to urban violence just this year alone (consider that we’re not even halfway through the year 2016 yet).

Although I found it intriguing that Kelly brought up before Congress the name of Ben Wilson. He was the Simeon High School basketball star who would have been the star of the Fighting Illini at the University of Illinois back during the mid-1980s when I was in college.
We'll never know what Wilson could have been
Except that he got shot and killed during a street confrontation.

It’s as though this problem is a long-running one, and which we ought to be ashamed of ourselves as a society that we have allowed it to last for as many decades as it has.

“WHO HAS TO be shot, and how many have to die, before we do anything,” was the question that Kelly put rhetorically out to the Congress.

Which makes the comments of one member of Congress (from the South is all I’ll say of him) seem particularly dink-ish.

I’m talking about the one who said he’s proud to have a record in Congress that constantly supports opposing any restrictions on firearms, and how he’s inclined to respond to the sit-in by going home and buying himself a new weapon.

In the end, Congress wound up voting to go home for the Independence Day holiday. A break so they can hear and see all the explosives going off in the sky as a gesture of how much we supposedly love our country.

EVEN THOUGH IN some places, the very use of fireworks is a criminal act in and of itself.

But this is an issue that is bound to come up again after the holiday break, and could very well refuse to die off until after Election Day.

Which may be the ultimate goal of the Republican partisans – hold off on doing anything until after people vote.

The only problem is that the death tally due to irresponsible twits who feel compelled to take out their tantrums with firepower isn’t likely to decline anytime soon.


Can Donald Trump buy the White House on a bargain basement budget?

Much has been made in recent weeks about the fact that the presidential campaign apparatus of Donald Trump is miniscule.
TRUMP: Wealthy man buying White House on the cheap?
Not quite $1.3 million – which would be extravagant if he were seeking a state Legislature post or low-budget if he were running for Congress.

BUT CONSIDERING THE absurd costs of presidential campaigns these days that have to get voters to turn out all across the United States? It’s pitiful, particularly when one considers that likely opponent Hillary Clinton has reported to the Federal Elections Commission that she had nearly $42.5 million available to her campaign back on May 31.

By comparison, Trump is a campaign pauper, even though in terms of personal wealth Trump makes Hillary look like the peasant he probably thinks of her as being.

The fact is that because the Republican establishment is ashamed of the fact that their party members actually picked a rube like Trump to have a presidential nomination, they’re not going to do much of anything to help him.

The usual big-money people who kick in the millions that usually make Republican candidates better funded than Democrats aren’t doing so this time.

ALL OF THAT $1.3 million for Trump likely is his own money. It’s likely that his entire presidential campaign is going to put a dent in his personal wealth. Which when you consider how he has flaunted it throughout the years, it’s no wonder that no one feels a need to give Trump a dime towards his presidential fantasies.

Trump himself is trying to turn this into an asset – claiming he’s not leeching off anyone else to pay for his presidential campaign. He thinks we ought to regard it as a plus that he’s incapable of raising any kind of political funds – largely because his personal behavior is so gauche that it turns off respectable people everywhere.

There also are those who argue that the Trump persona is different from the traditional political candidate to the point where the usual rules don’t apply.

There are going to be people who will pay attention to anything the rube has to say to the point where he doesn’t need to indulge in all the paid media buys that many candidates resort to in order to get their message out.

WHICH STRIKES ME as being pathetic – the rich guy can get attention just by flaunting his absurd persona. Are we, the people, really that lame and desperate for our political entertainment?

It would be quite a statement about our electorate if a candidate who can run so cheap because when he does open his mouth he spews nonsense that some voters find amusing can actually gain enough voter support to run a credible campaign.

Let alone actually win!

That is, unless the money is merely evidence of how Hillary Clinton will be capable of standing up to any of the nonsense talk that Trump will resort to during the coming months of the general election cycle.

IT ACTUALLY REMINDS me of a conversation I once heard between a broadcaster and a political operative back in the days when I worked at the Statehouse in Springfield.

One of them actually liked the idea of a candidate who could supposedly say or do whatever he wanted because he didn’t have campaign donors to answer to. While the other asked the question that still pops into my mind from time to time:

“Do you really want the rich to be the only ones who can run for office?”

Particularly if it’s someone whose wealth has clearly gone to his head to the point that I’d fear he’d try to put his name on the executive mansion (“The Trump House?”) just like he has all those garish hotels and office buildings he has erected around the world.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Did Hillary hand-pick Trump so she could beat crackpot come Nov.?

It’s an interesting conspiracy theory – put forth by wishful thinkers who have far too much free time on their hands.
GOP responsible for Trump, not Dem plotters
Donald Trump is a political plant – as in someone the Democrats (namely Hillary Clinton herself) set up to win the Republican presidential nomination for the Nov. 8 elections so as to ensure a Hillary victory.

AFTER ALL, THE only way that Clinton could overcome all the baggage brought about by her husband, Bill, and all the ideologues who are convinced she’s the ultimate witch-with-a-B who will steer this country in a permanent liberal direction, is to have a lunatic so far out on the fringe as an opponent that real people couldn’t possibly take him seriously.

Hence, we get Donald Trump instead of any of the 17 other people who campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination during this year’s primary election cycle.

But it is a theory I have a hard time taking seriously. Namely because I don’t think Hillary or any other Democratic operatives would be capable of pulling off something on such a grand scale as this.

I think if Trump weren’t serious about seeking the nomination, then he would not have been capable of drawing the support of that segment of our society that is determined to craft the Republican Party into a mechanization in their own ideological image, then use it to impose their authority over our society as a whole.

FOR ALL THOSE Republicans who can’t quite get their minds around the fact that they’re going to be nominating Trump to represent them come November when they gather later this summer in Cleveland, perhaps they need to realize just how much they have lost control of their political party.
Does Hillary have it in her to handpick opponent?

The Republican brand has come to mean a certain rigid ideological leaning, and also one that views urban life in this country as some sort of disease that threatens to spread from sea to shining sea.

It is the political party of rural America, so to speak. One that goes out of its way to make sure certain people know they don’t really fit in – and should not get too comfortable in this country because their time for removal will come!

Which is totally in line with much of the rhetoric that Trump is spewing these days while going from place to place and trying to talk himself up as a serious candidate for U.S. president.

IT’S NOT A grand conspiracy by opponents to undermine the Republican Party in this country. If anything, it is the end result of the trends that have been taking over the one-time Party of Lincoln for decades.

This is what Republican partisans have done to themselves – either through their apathy or, in some cases, active seeking of ideologically tainted support. The people within the Republican Party who are now trying to concoct last-minute schemes intended to deprive Trump of the GOP presidential nomination are seriously delusional themselves.

Perhaps more so than Trump himself if he seriously thinks any of his nonsense-talk about walls along the U.S./Mexico border will ever come true, or any of the other schemes he has brought up to push an isolationist and xenophobic vision of what this country ought to be about.

Then again, the kind of people to whom such a rant would appeal probably are gullible to believe that a conspiracy could be hatched to deprive them of a chance to have a president sympathetic to their desires.

PERHAPS THEY THINK such actions are possible because of the one known case where it seems a president was able to pick  his opponent with the idea of running against someone too weak to take seriously.
Latest conspiracy downright Nixonian!

That would be 1972 and Richard Nixon, who ultimately ran against Democrat Ed Muskie after other, more credible Democrats managed to collapse during the primary cycle. Do we really think that Hillary Clinton somehow concocted her own yet-to-be-discovered “Watergate” scheme to steal the presidency?

It’s just a little too nonsensical to take seriously.

Then again, so is much of what is taking place during this particular election cycle – one that is managing to develop credibility retroactively for all of the stupid political trash talk that took place in previous campaign years.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

So much for “no Rauner” fantasy

There are those people who were desperately clinging to the fantasy that Illinois government would undergo a significant change come the 2018 election cycle because Bruce Rauner would choose voluntarily to not seek another term as governor.
RAUNER: Four more years??!?
Some wanted to believe the corporate executive who wishes he could just downsize Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, out of a job the way he might if Illinois government were his own private company never had any intention of serving beyond one four-year term in office.

WHILE OTHERS WERE eager to believe that all the frustration of partisan politicking against Madigan had Rauner so fed up he would decide that another four-year term wasn’t worth the hassle or expense.

Particularly since he’s allegedly not accepting the salary that state government otherwise provides for a governor to preside as the state’s chief executive officer of sorts.

But politicking does manage to get into one’s bloodstream. It does take to one’s ego to be the official who in theory gets to bark orders at people within the state government structure and have those orders obeyed.

At least until someone of the opposition political party (or sometimes even of your own) tells you to “stick it” up a certain orifice that otherwise causes much physical pain.

SO THE FACT that Rauner told the Chicago Tribune recently he plans to run for a second term as governor come the next statewide election cycle? It’s not at all surprising, and not just because Rauner is claiming he has said that before.

Even though no one has been able to specifically find any time he made such a statement, which is what led to all the wishful thinking about all the ongoing partisan political nonsense that has our state on perpetual hold being just a temporary situation.

As though Democrats could ultimately prevail as the political victor just by being stubborn enough to hold out long enough. As though 2019 would be the year everything would return to normal.

Or whatever “normal” could be defined as being. Because our state’s government operations have always had a touch of the bizarre. By no stretch of the imagination will we ever adopt the “goo goo” mentality that exists in a place like Madison, Wis.

NOR SHOULD WE ever be expected to take on such an attitude.

Which may be the ultimate reason we ought to figure out a way of resolving the state’s financial situation – and not some sort of stop-gap budget that merely maintains the status quo for a short time out of some hope that a long-term solution will be forthcoming.

It won’t be. Anybody who says it will be is spewing nothing more than lies!!!

Just think of all the stop-gap measures the federal government has taken on. All it has done is helped justify the perpetual partisan nonsense of Republican officials figuring they can hold out against the Obama presidency – the denial of which is their ultimate goal.

IN A SENSE, what is happening at the Illinois state level is a similar denial – although it is a sense that both sides are so equally full of themselves they can’t appreciate that the public sees an equal blame. Truly a “pox on both houses,” to rip off from the Bard himself.

Yes, some can argue that Democrats are in denial that state government is no longer entirely dominated by their political party. But it is also equally accurate that we have a governor who doesn’t realize his position is not the same as a CEO.

He doesn’t get to order around Legislators – particularly when the opposite political party has that “veto proof” majority of support. This isn’t the time to be having partisan fantasies about ramming rhrough anti-union measures.

And if it turns out that Rauner is going to be around for awhile longer, we’re going to have to adjust our own expectations. Either get serious compromise – or accept the new status quo of being a government that does nothing, and causes us all some public perception embarrassment in the process.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Bulls can keep their glory, not that they were ever in danger of losing it

It has been some 20 years since that season when the Chicago Bulls managed to set a record 72 victories in the regular season – a record that finally fell this year with the Golden State Warriors (that’s the Oakland, Calif.-area) managing to win 73 games.
Fell one win short of ultimate goal
Is it possible that these Warriors are better than the high-and-mighty Bulls teams that we had back in the 1990s – the one time that Chicago sports got to experience a taste of the kind of athletic glamour that New York Yankees fans expect routinely?


It certainly isn’t going to be remembered as big as those teams led by the duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and also had characters like Dennis Rodman (what color would he wear his hair on any given night?) playing regularly.

The Warriors led by Stephen Curry (I have to confess, when I hear the name “Curry” it brings to my mind Eddy, the high school sensation from Thornwood High in South Holland who didn’t quite become the next Bulls superstar) may be able to claim to have won one more game than did those 1995-96 Bulls.

But those Bulls went on to be National Basketball Association champions for that season – and five others within that 1990s decade.

IN THE END, the Warriors fell Sunday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers. History will record these 73-win Warriors as merely a second-best team and NOT champions like the Cavaliers – led by LeBron James, the other high school sensation who turned out to be the elite player that sports fans thought Eddy Curry would be for the Bulls.
Still on top of the ultimate champion category
I don’t doubt that Golden State fans feel something special about this season that is now finished. Although I doubt anyone else will get all worked up over it.

For all I know, they will be quickly forgotten while basketball fans will debate for decades to come whether those 1990s Bulls were THE elite team of professional basketball.

That, and they’ll remember how Jordan himself was a Saturday Night Live guest (remember the sight of him in a grass skirt doing the hula dance with the Superfans cheering on his merits (Jordan was almost as sensational as Mike Ditka himself, to listen to those old comedy sketches).
Nobody would confuse him with Stephen
ALL OF THIS has come to a wrap-up, and I have to admit to feeling glad – in part because I think the professional basketball season stretches on far too long. It’s even more ridiculous playing NBA Finals games in late June than it is playing the World Series in the days leading up to Halloween.

We can now relegate the Curry Warriors vs. the Jordan Bulls debates to semi-drunken bar quarrels, and wonder how many times in the future the issue will lead to an outburst sensational enough that the cops will have to come in and break things up.

Because it just wasn’t a quarrel I cared to have all that often, and not just because I’m not much of a basketball fan.

Of course, the Chicagoan in me is going to find it difficult to ever have anyone challenge the significance of the Bulls back in that era.

SIX CHAMPIONSHIPS IN an eight-year time span is historic no matter what the sport.
One of Chicago's true sports characters
Although others will go on and on about the historic significance of Cleveland managing to come from as far behind as they were in the final round of the NBA Finals to actually win the whole thing.

Some will cry about Stephen Curry’s dream season falling one game short. While those people who think LeBron James is some snotty, arrogant punk will be upset to see him on yet another championship team.

And those of us with a Chicago rooting interest will wind up crying the loudest – wondering why the Bulls stink so much and when it will be their turn to win yet again.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Just what does a losing political candidate really owe to his victor?

So what should we make of Bernie Sanders, now that it is apparent that the senator from Vermont is NOT about to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee?
SANDERS: Won't wither away

He’s the man who the other day talked of the need for people to unite to ensure that the overly-vocal minority of Donald Trump backers aren’t sufficient to actually win the November presidential elections, even though an acknowledgment that he LOST the primary cycle to Hillary Clinton never actually came from his mouth.

AS REPORTED IN so many places, Sanders talked about his role in determining just what the Democratic candidates will stand for. He talked about his expectations.

Even though one could argue that as the loser, his expectations ought to be that he can slink away into anonymity and won’t face any sort of political reprisals for having the nerve to challenge Hillary – who after all was the pick of Democratic Party establishment officials.

But that just wouldn’t be Bernie’s style. He’s the grouchy old guy (actually older than Hillary – whom some Bernie backers like to think of as some old lady who’s past her prime).

So he’s going to be the one who goes about screaming and screeching what he thinks the party ought to stand for.

BUT WHAT EXACTLY will that amount to?

I could easily envision a scenario in which Sanders is put in charge of some sort of committee that helps craft the official Democratic Party platform statement that sets forth in writing a whole bunch of stances on selected issues that real Democrats are supposed to believe.

Which is about as worthless a task as one could be asked to perform. Because the platform is a document that usually does not acknowledge the wide range of stances that exist on issues. It is something that candidates choose to ignore whenever it suits them.

I can’t see Sanders being content to prepare a document that will be ignored.

BUT WOULD HILLARY Clinton dare let Sanders have any more say within the political party mechanizations? I doubt it!

She’s going to dream of what is the ideal type of political loser – someone who quietly fades away into the woodwork without continuing to try to stir up dissention. She doesn’t need Sanders to become her most outspoken advocate.

But she certainly would want for him to put a gag on himself and not say much of anything. Which is certainly not the style of the man who rose from political obscurity to national prominence to the point where some people are seriously disappointed that he did not prevail in the now-complete Democratic primary elections.

The problem is that if Hillary gave Bernie too prominent a post, he would wind up detracting from her own campaign. You’d wind up having many of those Bernie backers going into the general election campaign cycle convinced the wrong person won.

PERSONALLY, I EXPECT many of those people who felt “the Bern” and were inspired by his oft-vague rhetoric are just not going to bother to cast ballots. There may well be a sense of disappointment that drives down voter turnout.

But this truly is the year of “Who do I hate the least?” being the chief sentiment that guides people if they bother to show up at the polling place later this year.

There are Republican ideologues who have it so ingrained in their blood that a Clinton is a being to be destroyed politically that they won’t be able to conceive of voting for her. While a majority of sane people will wonder what those ideologues were thinking during their primary cycles this year that they could nominate Trump.

Right now, Sanders is meekly claiming to offer support to defeating Donald. It will be interesting to see how he winds up trying to talk himself up in the process.