Monday, April 24, 2017

Can Quintaña win when losing? Will White Sox benefit despite all the “L’s?”

There are those baseball fans who like to follow the game through the use of various statistics that supposedly tell us more about a ballplayer’s true worth than the traditional ones about batting average or wins.

An 0-4 ace pitcher?!?
For the Chicago White Sox’ sake, they had better hope such logic is applied. Because this is the team supposedly in a building mode that has made it clear their Number One pitcher these days is up for trade.

THEY’RE HOPING EVENTUALLY to find someone eager enough to acquire Jose Quintaña that they’ll give up a lot of talent. Perhaps a team that thinks one more quality pitcher will help them win a championship in 2017 – while the White Sox focus on what could take place in 2019 or 2020.

Until then, Quintaña pitches for the White Sox, taking the ball every fifth game and tries to do his best to pitch the White Sox to V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.

But while the White Sox as a team have managed thus far to win about half of their ballgames (making them mediocre rather than lousy), Quintaña has statistically been a flop. Unless you factor statistics other than “games won” into the equation.

For Quintaña in 2017 has a record of 0-4. In four starts (including the first game of the season against the Detroit Tigers), he has managed to be the losing pitcher of record. Not usually the kind of guy who’d get featured on Jimmy Fallon’s late night TV talk show (the two spoke in Spanish about who would pay for a thong)!

BUT IT’S GETTING to the point where some White Sox fans may start dreading the appearance of their alleged top pitcher because they’re figuring there will be enough losses in ’17 – we don’t need to give up on ballgames before they even start.
Jose will face pitchers like Kluber all season

Of course, it should be noted that Quintaña is facing a decades-old phenomenon of being a ball club’s top pitcher – he pitches in the rotation against the other ball club’s “ace.” How much better would one-time Chicago Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins’ record be if he hadn’t always had to pitch against Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal or Bob Gibson – Hall of Famers all!

In Quintaña’s most recent ballgame on Friday, he pitched and lost to the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians, who had their own ace Corey Kluber pitching.

Quintana gave up three runs, and under different circumstances that might not have been so bad.
Too bad Fergie couldn't pitch against Cubs

BUT ON FRIDAY, it stunk because Kluber used the night game as an occasion to pitch shutout ball. 3-0 was the final score. But the CBS Sports account of the ballgame made a point of calling the game Quintaña’s second quality start of the season.

Even though the other two ballgames he pitched are to blame for that earned run average of over 6. Better for people to focus on the BABIP for this season of .293 – which is the batting average of balls hit in play while Quintaña pitches.

It actually is better than the .304 figure he has during the length of his professional ballplaying career.

He also has managed to strike out 20 batters during his four starts, where he lasted 23 1/3 innings in all.

THE SPORTING NEWS recently published a commentary arguing that “pitcher wins and losses are stupid stats” and that baseball fans should “banish” them from their discussions about the game.

As one who’d like to see Quintaña be turned over for something of quality to wear a White Sox uniform in coming seasons, I can only hope others take that line of logic seriously.
Some of the strangest stats ever seen!

Because the bottom line of "wins" and "losses can be deceptive. I still remember the Wilbur Wood of the early-to-mid 1970s White Sox, who had a three-season stretch where he lost 17, 20 and 19 games. But he also won 22, 24 and 24 and in one season also had the earned run average of 2.51. He was doing something right in order to keep being used to pitch despite so many losses.

Which likely is to be Quintaña’s fate for 2017 – he’ll keep throwing until he’s traded. But wouldn’t it be nice if he could get at least one “W” on his record before that moment. Perhaps his next start Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals before the Sox begin a road trip to Detroit, Kansas City and Baltimore?


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Obama outshines the Trumpster?

You have to admit that Barack Obama has kept a low profile since leaving the presidency some 91 days ago.
Obama to make a return trip. Does anyone think Trump would have something significant to say there?

I’m sure the ideological nitwits amongst us want to lambast the former president for being frivolous – what with his post-presidential vacation trips to Palm Springs, Calif.; a resort in French Polynesia and to the Caribbean with English billionaire Richard Branson.

BUT THEN, THEY’D have to acknowledge the constant weekend trips that President Donald Trump makes (at public expense) to the Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida that he owns.

As though Trump can’t stand the thought of traveling anywhere where he can’t stay in a place with his business brand on the marquee, or have somebody fired for serving him chicken salad rather than tuna.

And while Obama is spending time with people such as Branson, we’re getting the current White House occupant spending his time there with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her rock ‘n’ roll buddies.

Just a thought; how sad is it that we still refer to Palin for the political post she held for two years and gave up nearly a decade ago? Because she hasn’t done anything of significance since then that we could use to identify her.

BUT BACK TO Obama and Trump – with the former president expected to make his first post-presidential appearance in public in Chicago come Monday. He’ll be partaking in a forum of high school and college students – hoping to inspire our society’s future.

Rather than Trump, whose idea of our “future” is to turn back to elements of our society’s past that, frankly, we should be ashamed we ever tolerated to begin with.
How many pretending this image still relevant ...

Although not directly affiliated with the Obama Foundation, the program next week will be held in the Jackson Park neighborhood, and will create a sense of what we can expect to get from having that Obama presidential library and museum in our city.

These thoughts bop about my brain because of the constant efforts by the Trump administration to erase elements of our government that can be traced back to the Obama years. As though they want us to forget we were ever deluded enough to reject the idea of either John McCain or Mitt Romney as U.S. president.

OBAMA SEEMS TO exist in a separate realm – not getting dragged into the current president’s world. Which is probably a good thing, on account of the fact that Trump truly seems to live in his own world – and thinks the rest of us need to suffer there with him for his amusement.
... rather than the current occupant?

Such as when Trump talks of how successful his “first 100 days” (which have just over a week to go) have been, and thinks it is a media conspiracy that prevents the masses from realizing this fact!

Perhaps we’re just seeing how separate segments of our society have become; and why I’m not surprised that various polls show evidence that the people who DID vote for Trump aren’t showing any regrets – no matter how little is accomplished.

The rest of us may be following the lead of Simon and Garfunkel when they sang, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” Obama probably will carry on a symbolism far greater than his actual accomplishments. Just as DiMaggio was called the “Greatest Living Player” even though others had more home runs or a better batting average!

HOPING THAT SOMEHOW, we can get something in the way of leadership from a man who at age 55 is retired from political life – unless he can somehow create a second segment of life for himself that could rival the post-presidency of Jimmy Carter. We’re probably going to spend the next few decades comparing the lives of Obama vs. Trump – and seeing which one matches up to our ideological sensibilities.

Such as when Obama appears May 25 in Germany at the Brandenburg Gate – recalling his 2008 speech that gave him international recognition and which the McCain campaign tried to use to mock him as an insubstantial “rock star” rather than a serious politician.

That didn’t work, and German Chancellor Angela Markel will be at Obama’s side. The same Markel whom Trump managed to offend when he wouldn’t publicly shake her hand during a visit to the White House.
KENNEDY: Fired? Or honored!

Or perhaps when Obama later this year receives the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, with Kennedy daughter, Caroline, whom Obama made his U.S. ambassador to Japan. And whom Trump insisted had to be fired from the post and leave that country the instant he became president back on Jan. 20.


Friday, April 21, 2017

EXTRA: Well, that didn't take long

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel based in Chicago officially upheld the 14-year prison sentence that former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is serving. This ruling comes merely three days after attorneys for Blagojevich argued that the trial judge didn't take into account all the letters written by prison inmates who have encountered the former governor and say he has been a model inmate.
ZAGEL: His Blagojevich ruling upheld (again)

It's not the least bit surprising the appeals court would take such an attitude -- not wanting to overturn U.S. District Judge James Zagel unless he did something that was a blatant legal screw-up.

BUT THIS WAS a quick ruling. The argument was made Tuesday, and the written legal brief rejecting Milorod came out Friday morning. Not even the appearance of any real deliberation. It reminds me of when the Illinois Supreme Court considered the case of "Baby Richard," a child whose adoption was challenged by his father even though the mother willingly gave the boy up. It took that court four hours to come back with a ruling in the father's favor.

Blagojevich's attorneys can now take their case to the Supreme Court of the United States, although I can't envision that in this Age of Trump they'd be terribly sympathetic. The only real question is, 'How quickly will they refuse to even hear arguments?'


A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): What makes “normal” Indian governor?

I have one thing to say about the Illinois gubernatorial Democratic primary coming up next year – Ameya Pawar has a sense of humor.

PAWAR: Our state's first Indian gov?
He’s going to need it; particularly since the common perception is that this primary is a battle between J.B. Pritzker (he of the Hyatt Hotels fortune) and Chris Kennedy – with the latter making up for a lesser personal wealth with the political glories of his father and two uncles.

YOU HAVE TO admit, even a Daley running for office in Chicago would have trouble rivaling the political star power of papa Bobby, Jack and Uncle Teddy.
HALEY: Now our nation's U.N. rep

For those of you who haven’t paid any attention to Pawar (and most people merely snicker when his name is brought up in political conversation), he’s the alderman for the 47th Ward (Northwest Side) whose immigrant parents settled into this country from India.

He’d be the first Indian-American governor of Illinois, if he could win. He’d also be the third Indian-American to become a governor of any state – we’ve had Bobby Jindal from Louisiana and Nikki Haley from South Carolina; the latter now being the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Both of whom ran as Republicans in states that had negligible Asian racial populations (both estimated at about 1.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau’s 2015 updates). Which means both had to make themselves into something that the white majorities could identify with, rather than being themselves.

WHICH IS THE point Pawar tried to make with his appearance this week at the iO Theater when he quipped, “I’ll be the first normal Indian governor.”
JINDAL: 1st guv named for a Brady?

No tales like we get from Jindal, the guy who “Americanized” his name by taking the moniker from the snot-nosed youngest boy on “The Brady Bunch.”

Of course, we also get Pawar’s wife, Charna, who is Jewish, which leads to Pawar referring to himself as a “Hin-Jew.” Certainly a lot more color and life in this potential governor compared to some of the Executive Mansion occupants (Yes, I’m talking about you, Jim Edgar) we’ve had in the past.

What else is laughable, in an unfortunate manner, about the political scene these days?

AN ENCORE PERFORMANCE: Remember how miffed President Donald J. Trump got when a federal judge of Mexican ethnic ancestry wound up ruling against him in that lawsuit against his Trump University?
CURIEL: Will Trump target him again?

The same judge who is a native of East Chicago, Ind. (which has a slight majority of Latinos amongst its population) is now going to preside over a case in which a man says he was illegally deported to Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (a federal judge in Southern California) will have to decide the fate of a man who says that federal Immigration officials provided no documentation to justify his removal from the United States. The Mexico native says he should have had protection from deportation due to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act.

You know, that measure enacted by President Barack Obama that Trump wanted to wipe away just as much as he wanted to do away with the Affordable Care Act? You just know if the courts prevent him from taking that action, we’ll get the ultimate load of obscenities – probably so many that even the late comedian Richard Pryor would blush.

WHO LET THE RABBLE IN THE OVAL OFFICE: We’ve all seen the photographs by now – Trump allowed former Alaska Gov. (and failed Vice Presidential candidate) Sarah Palin into the White House for dinner.

She brought along so-called musicians Ted Nugent and Kid Rock – both of whom think it enhances their “street cred” by being outspoken and crass toward Progressive causes and officials. Meaning they approve of the Trumpster way of thinking.
The 'deplorables' at work?
Much has even been made of the photograph of the group that was taken of them standing in front of a formal portrait of former first lady Hillary Clinton. It’s a wonder they didn’t blow their noses and wipe snot on it!

Although personally, I was more entranced by the trashy-looking women who accompanied Nugent and Rock to the White House. Because they’re exactly the kind of loose-looking “ladies” whom the conservative ideologues have spent years associating with former President Bill Clinton.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Are voters in places like Bolingbrook really rebelling against the Trumpsters?

The political pundits are desperately trying to analyze the electorate – is it a plus, or a minus, to be perceived as backing Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Is it really all about him?

There were those special elections held this week to fill Congressional vacancies in Georgia and Kansas, and Dem political operatives are eager to see signs of future victory – even though Democratic Party candidates didn’t win in either place.

WE’RE HEARING TALK of strategic victories because they showed Democratic candidates can be competitive in districts that typically lean Republican because there is great uncertainty about the stability of the Trump administration.

In the Georgia election (the Atlanta suburbs, to be exact), the Democrat actually came close to winning outright a bid to replace a Republican congressman who gave up the seat to become a Trump cabinet member. A runoff election will decide the outcome.

While in Kansas, Republican Ron Estes will be sworn in to his new post later this month.

These particular areas are political districts that lean so typically Republican that they’re usually not the kind of places that Democrats spend time trying to win elections. Meaning that areas where Democrats are more competitive are more likely to provide Dem victories in future elections.

OR AT LEAST that’s the analysis the Washington Post gave to the two elections on Wednesday.

Yes, we’re getting the political fantasies of a 2018 election cycle in which the national electorate repudiates Donald J. Trump and sticks him with at least a Democrat-led House of Representatives – if not an entire Dem Congress!

That would be hysterical to watch, because you just know Trump would go ballistic nearly every day if he had a government with the authority to be openly defiant of his absurd whims. As it is, what makes the current government scary is that it is more than willing to indulge Trump’s whims, so long as they reinforce their own authority within the federal government.

But strategic wins aren’t wins unless you actually get more votes!

WHICH MAY BE the lesson we learn from the recent Bolingbrook mayoral election. That’s the suburb in Will County where the mayor, Roger Claar, had to go shooting off his mouth last year about how wonderful Donald Trump was.

He even went so far as to organize a Trump fundraiser for Trump at a time when Illinois Republican political operatives were desperately trying to avoid having anything to do with The Donald. His opponent was a commissioner on the Will County Board, and she used Trump against Claar big-time during her campaign.

Finally, this week, all the provisional ballots were counted and we can now say definitively that Claar won re-election to a ninth term in office with 151 more votes than his challenger.

So is the lesson to be learned here that Claar probably would have had an overwhelming victory (in the past, he has often ran unopposed) if he had only eased up on the Trump talk and kept his support down to merely voting for him?

I KNOW SOME political operatives have tried claiming similar lessons from Claar’s case as they’re now trying to see in the congressional elections – there are significant numbers of voters who feel contempt for the current occupant of the White House who can be used to support candidates who oppose the thought of the Trumpster.

But as noted earlier, we don’t have Democratic victories in Georgia or Kansas. And I’m pretty sure Claar is going to forevermore think of this election cycle as the one in which he had to endure some political harassment, but came out ahead in the end.

Could it be that in the end, people will put aside their distaste for the president and not let it impact their future votes? Or are too apathetic to get that worked up?

It’s all about the spin one wants to put on the issue. Actual truth gets lost in the shuffle.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How will the Blagojevich tale end?

It will be interesting to see just how seriously the federal appeals court based in Chicago takes the latest argument made by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich – who desperately wants that 14-year prison sentence he’s serving changed to something he considers more reasonable.
BLAGOJEVICH: 7 more years?

Perhaps something like time served?

ATTORNEYS FOR BLAGOJEVICH were at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, spending about a half-hour arguing why U.S. District Judge James Zagel was wrong when he re-sentenced the former governor to the same prison term that he had originally received when found guilty of various crimes.

Admittedly, the court that found some of the charges he was found guilty of to be improper, but also said that those charges were lesser enough that they didn’t automatically ensure a lesser prison sentence.

That caused Zagel to hand down the same sentence, despite the many letters and statements that Blagojevich’s attorneys had presented to make an argument that the former governor is actually a model inmate at the federal corrections facility in Colorado where he has been held since 2012.

Zagel at the time made a point of saying he disregarded what those people thought about Blagojevich’s conduct while in prison because they did not know him back when he was Illinois’ governor and held a position of power that required people to trust his judgment and conduct.

BLAGOJEVICH’S ATTORNEYS ARGUED on Tuesday that Zagel ought to be required to take those people (many of whom are inmates who have had contact with Blagojevich during his incarceration) and their thoughts into account.

“Judge Zagel dismissed it in effect as being irrelevant,” attorney Michael Nash argued before the appeals court. “It is an important factor that should have been considered. The judge dismissed it out of hand.”

I’m not sure how eager the appeals court will be to decide on what amounts to a judgment call on the part of the trial judge.
ZAGEL: Judging the judge's ruling

Because part of what his job includes is to decide what information that comes up during a trial is relevant, and what is not. In some cases, it is his task to keep lesser details from being blown out of proportion, and irrelevant facts from swaying a verdict one way or the other.

I CAN APPRECIATE why attorneys for Blagojevich are eager to have people say nice things about the man; particularly since here in the outside world – and particularly in that political universe known as Chicagoland – the only talk we hear about the man is negative.

Creating the image of a man who no longer poses a threat to our society, or our political structure, is key to making an argument that the five years Blagojevich already has served in prison is sufficient.

Which, if you want to be totally honest, is more time than most people who get politically-connected criminal convictions wind up getting.

If it were just about anybody else, particularly someone with a less-bloated ego than our former governor had, he’d have got the 18 months at a minimum-security facility and he’d be well on his way to turning into a “Whatever became of …” story.

INSTEAD, BLAGOJEVICH SEEMS determined to live on in our mindset at least until that May 2024 date on which he qualifies for early release – provided he really remains as well-behaved an inmate as his attorneys contend he is.

That means several more appearances in coming years by former first lady Patti trying to claim that her man deserves to be free – does she think she’s becoming Winnie Mandela, who spent those decades her activist husband Nelson was in jail traveling the world to argue for his cause?
PATTI: Speaking out for husband

Calling him an “eternal optimist,” Patti Blagojevich on Tuesday told reporter-types of her husband, “he’s always hoping this is going to come out the way it needs to come out.”

The sad thing is I could see where if THAT outcome were to become reality, it would be the nightmare for many of us in society who wish it were possible that we could just quit paying attention to the Illinois political nonsense of those year that is only topped by the state fiscal stupidity of the current era.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Sports are so unpredictable; or, How Dare da Bulls screw up by winning!

I didn’t watch the Chicago Bulls as they began their playoff stretch Sunday against the Boston Celtics, but I did stumble onto some of the pre-game ritual that focused heavily on the fact that Celtics player Isaiah Thomas had a sister who was killed during the weekend in an automobile accident.
Spouting off too quickly?

We got to see the closeup of his game shoes that had her name written on them as a tribute and the moment of silence by the fans, along with the sight of Thomas sobbing. It was supposed to be the motivating factor that would inspire the Celtics to go out and win this game for their teammate in mourning.

DURING THE TNT pre-game broadcast, analyst Charles Barkley came right out and proclaimed the Chicago Bulls to be “losers” Sunday night, and likely of this entire round of playoffs. They have no chance!

The Celtics would just have too many reasons to win, and not just because theoretically they’re a better team.

Now I don’t know if this belongs on the list of ridiculous things Charles Barkley has said during his time as a professional basketball player and post-player career hanging around the game. Heck, it’s not even the dumbest thing he said Sunday – what with his remarks that another player would spend that night in a gay bar.

But let’s look at the actual on-court results for a second.

CHICAGO BULLS 106-Boston Celtics 102.

It’s almost like that moment from the film “Brian’s Song,” when the Chicago Bears learn that teammate Brian Piccolo was seriously ill and they take it upon themselves to say they’ll give Piccolo the game ball.
Didn't get the desired Sunday tribute

Only to cut to the next scene where the Piccolo character belittles his teammates for going out and losing the game! So much for the tribute to and sister Chyna.

Either that, or we can blame the Bulls for screwing up what would have been a touching sporting moment. Or at least something that the sporting fan mentality would want to perceive of as being touching.

SINCE ALL TOO often, that mentality does have a knack of making something out of what the rest of the world would consider nothing.

Now I’m not particularly following the Bulls as they try to work their way through what theoretically could be a couple of months of playoffs leading up to the National Basketball Association championship, to be played in June.
I'll bet MJ could tell us tales about Barkley

I realize this first round against Boston could be THE END for Chicago. The Bulls of the 21st Century are nowhere near the domineering team they were in the final decade of the 20th Century.

In fact, managing to win the game that Charles Barkley said they were supposed to lose and had no business even thinking of being competitive in could wind up being the highlight of the 2016-17 season.

THERE ARE STILL up to six more games to be played in this round of the playoffs, and it is totally possible Boston will rebound. In fact, it probably is likely they will rebound, and people will “little note nor long remember” what was said by Barkley.

To steal a thought from one A. Lincoln and his most famed of speeches he made that day in Gettysburg, Penn.
"You're supposed to win the game!"

That we will get to see for ourselves when the Bulls take to the court again Tuesday night for another game against Boston before traveling back to the United Center for Game Three against those mighty Celtics.

All of which strikes me as a bit much attention for a sport that should have had the decency to wrap itself up in March, since playing for an NBA championship in June is almost as obscene as the baseball World Series in November.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Taxman’s taking my money; there’s nothing left for political contributions

I can’t help but laugh at the most recent financial pitches I have received through the e-mail seeking my money.
We may fantasize, but is it worth our cash?

They’re coming to me in this weekend when I have to make my annual accounting to the Internal Revenue Service as to how successful I have been financially as a freelance writer, and I have to “pay up!” my share to the government.

SO THE IDEA that I have anything to spare right now, other than marking that one box on the tax return that asks if I’m willing to kick in $3 to the presidential election campaign fund, borders on being humorous.

Although to tell you the truth, a part of me is so appalled by the way the electoral process turned out this past cycle that I don’t know if I want to make the symbolic gesture that is supposed to benefit all of the general election candidates.

A part of me finds the CHC Bold PAC’s request for as little as a $1 donation to be more worthwhile, although if one reads their e-mail, it is quite clear they’re more than willing to take significantly larger donations.

And, of course, the group that wants to promote Latino political involvement in Congress is using a common tactic – they say their records show I have made “no donation” to their effort.

WHOSE PURPOSE IS to promote the concept of impeaching Donald Trump. Which personally is a goal I think will turn out to be pointless. So I’m not about to give up any cash, and not just because I’m a reporter-type person who never gives to such causes.

Actually, it would be more accurate to brand me a cheapskate than say I’m taking a principled stand. But even though I’m amongst the ranks of those displeased with the behavior of our nation’s 45th chief executive, I realize that the Republican leadership in Congress isn’t about to dump on the guy whose presence gives them the potential for total domination of our federal government.
Do you really think Las Vegas ...

If the House of Representatives were to vote to impeach and the Senate were to preside over a trial, it would be because the conservative ideologues in charge there would think Trump isn’t being irrational enough in his political thought.

So Impeaching Trump, for those of us with a touch of rationality in our thought, just isn’t worth our time or money.

NOT THAT I’M saying we ought to blindly be following The Donald’s lead. We ought to be letting him know at every opportunity that he does not speak for the majority of our society.
... and Bernie Sanders go well together?

Which is the focus of another pair of e-mails I have received during the past couple of days from the Democratic National Committee – one from the party itself and another from new Chairman Tom Perez.

It seems in exchange for my contribution of as little as $3 (or as much as $100, or more, if I wish), I can be entered in a contest of sorts along with other Democratic Party faithful.

The prize? An all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas (and NOT the one in Illinois – remember the old “Green Acres” episode?) where one can participate in a Come Together and Fight Back rally with Perez and (drumroll, please!!!) Sen. Bernie Sanders.

HE BEING THE Democratic Socialist who, after years of trying to maintain his distance from the Democratic Party, decided he wanted the party’s presidential nomination.

Or, he being the guy who couldn’t even beat Hillary Clinton in the primary – even though there are some political operatives who want to spin the line that Clinton was the candidate so weak she couldn’t even beat Donald Trump come the November general election.
Should 5 percent appear too small, be thankful I don't take it all

The party claims they’ll pay the flight and hotel costs of someone to participate in the rally – getting to see the political process in action. Although to tell the truth, the idea of spending time in Las Vegas with the senator from Vermont seems less than enticing.

Even if the IRS (and the Illinois Department of Revenue) weren’t about to take my spare money, I think I would have no problem taking a pass on either of these offers. While I now turn to the wise words of wisdom of George Harrison.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Chicago the site of the Trump ‘chicken dance,' and also paid protesters?

I get that President Donald J. Trump is p-o’ed with the thousands of people who decided they had nothing better to do Saturday than participate in rallies to complain that the president is too cowardly to make public his income tax returns.

Even his rant that the “election’s over” is predictable, if not terribly clever or witty.

BUT THERE’S SOMETHING just ever so pathetic about Trump’s insistence that there were “paid” people showing up to create the image of an American populace that doesn’t think highly of our newly-elected (he’s still in his first 100 days of office) president.

I know personally I learned of the rallies being held across the country off a website that encouraged people to go (I didn’t). Those included the Daley Plaza rally that attracted a few thousand individuals in its own right, along with rallies in the outer suburbs of Naperville and Chesterton, Ind., that drew a few hundred.

But there wasn’t anything indicating any form of compensation for anyone who showed up. It might have been more accurate for the Trumpites to argue these people need to “get a life,” (dancing in front of a giant, inflatable chicken erected outside the Trump Tower in Chicago) rather than they’re being bribed.

Particularly since there is evidence that Trump, during his campaign, goosed up the size of his own supportive crowds with some cash payments. Could it be that Trump is like one-time baseball manager Billy Martin, who assumed the whole world was out to get him and concocted strategies based off what he thought everyone else was doing to him?

IF TRUE, IT is sad. It is sorry. It is lame.

It is truly evidence of someone who needs to get a life, particularly since as he himself put it, he “won” the 2016 presidential election, and ought to enjoy the position’s perks – rather than concocting conspiracies against himself.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Politicos try to score points off tax returns; even the president in his refusal

We’re coming up on Tax Day and I expect we’re going to hear our share of political rhetoric lambasting and praising President Donald Trump for continuing to tell the American people to “stuff it” if they want to see his tax returns.
TRUMP: Still thinks taxes are 'nunaya' business

Personally, I’m not going to get so worked up – I realize we have a president who’s not interested in making the usual gestures of openness to the public and probably doesn’t want us knowing exactly how much more wealthy he is than the bulk of us.

BECAUSE THAT MIGHT be the final straw that would make many of the so-called working people who voted for him realize how ridiculous their presumptions about him were.

Besides, I also have to admit that even when government officials do release their returns, it’s usually because there are circumstances that they wish to exploit.

They’re doing so for their own political gain. Not because of any sense that they’re exposing themselves to the sunshine of truth and honesty and all that other good-government rhetoric.

If anything, Trump’s telling of the American people to “drop dead” on this issue might well be the most honest thing a government official can say. It shows us his arrogance, rather than us having to make us all dizzy with his political “spin.”

I CAME TO that realization on Friday when I learned how state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, who also is one of the people seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor.
BISS: Poor little legislator

He released the return he filed for 2016 to show just how far his income as a state senator had declined – an adjusted gross income of just over $32,500 even though in past years he had income in the range of $55,000.

But let’s not forget this past year was one in which state legislators had their own paychecks delayed because of the lack of a state government budget to authorize such payments.

Now, we can see for ourselves just what a financial blow the politicking over our state budget has had on the poor individual lawmakers. How sad!

I DO HAVE to admit that if I had to take a $20,000 shortfall in my income, it would be a financial blow. It would hurt. My guess is that Biss wants us all to feel similar sentiment.
Picasso to be surrounded by Trump tax rally

I’m also guessing that gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Ameya Pawar (all of whom have told the Capitol Fax newsletter they will be releasing their tax returns in coming days) will find similar ways to make political statements placing themselves in the most favorable light.

Even Gov. Bruce Rauner is most likely to find a way to make himself look good and somehow bear a resemblance to the masses of Illinois on whose behalf he wishes to govern for four more years.

It’s just the kind of cheap rhetoric that can make this time of year most annoying for a political reporter-type person. All the self-serving talk being spewed about!

WHICH KIND OF makes me wonder if we should be thankful that Trump, in his eternal sense of arrogance, isn’t giving us a load of political B.S. to contemplate. There really are limits to how much we, the people, should have to put up with. Which is why some of us will gather Saturday at rallies across the country, including in Chicago's Daley Plaza, along with suburban Naperville and in Chesterton, Ind.

Even though we can wonder how Trump is clueless enough to realize he’s missing a significant chance to humanize himself – and possibly detract from the reports coming out trashing himself and first lady Melania for the lack of activity to prepare for the White House Lawn Easter Egg hunt that has been a D.C. tradition for generations.
Image remains relevant all these yrs later

Although humanizing Trump could just be an impossible task, because the man gives us so many other examples of his unfitness for the office to which 46 percent of the electorate was able to anoint him to last year.

And now, I must turn my attention to my own tax returns – which I must admit that I haven’t even started as of the point in time I’m writing this commentary. It’s a good thing the Easter holiday weekend gives us a few extra days until Tuesday’s Tax Day deadline!


Friday, April 14, 2017

EXTRA: The Garcias, and a 2-1 victory for the Sox playing up in Minneapolis

Admittedly, it’s not quite as unique as back in the mid-1960s when the San Francisco Giants on occasion had all three of the brothers Alou (Matty, Felipe and Jesus) as their outfield.
Will we see the Garcia trio take the field this season in Chicago? Photograph provided by Chicago White Sox
But the Chicago White Sox on Friday had an all-Garcia outfield as they beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1.

THAT’S THE OUTFIELD of Willy in left field, Leury in center field and Avisail in right field. No, they’re not related. They’re not even of the same nationality or ethnicity (Avisail is from Venezuela, while Leury and Willy are from the Dominican Republic).

Los hermanos Alou when they were the Giants' outfield
But Garcia is such a fairly common Spanish surname, and this is yet more evidence of how strong the Latino presence is in professional baseball these days.

And for the record, the three of them got four hits in 10 at-bats combined. Willy got a double, but also hit into a double play, while Leury got caught trying to steal a base.

By the way, this win gives the White Sox a winning record (5 wins, 4 losses) for the season. We’ll see how long that lasts before mediocrity takes over this season at The Rate.


Is there nobody who’s safe any longer?

If ever there were people who had a degree of safety implied by their occupation, I’d have thought a judge and a priest would be amongst them.
MILES: Won't be presiding in Ct any longer

Yet the news reports out of Chicago – when not being cluttered with that passenger being forcibly removed from a United Airlines-affiliated flight or the spills in Lake Michigan contaminating the Indiana portion of its shoreline – have given us a judge and a priest who were crime victims.

WHILE THE PRIEST seems to be alive and well and grateful he wasn’t more seriously hurt, the same can’t be said for the judge.

Cook County Associate Judge Raymond Miles is now dead at age 66, following an altercation with an armed man who apparently was harassing his girlfriend outside his Chatham neighborhood home.

Police now say they doubt the armed man was that interested in the criminal division judge and was more interested in getting the woman – who also got shot during the Monday morning incident.

In fact, some news reports are indicating that the woman was intended as a robbery target, and got shot in the leg when she didn’t want to give up her purse. Hearing a scuffle caused Miles to come rushing out of his house to her aid, which then resulted in his getting shot as well.

THIS MAY MEAN we can put aside our original paranoias that said someone tried to have a judge killed to try to influence a case, or retribution for a negative legal ruling. Or whatnot.

Although police said they suspect the armed man had actually been following the woman for a couple of weeks to learn about her and try to figure out the best time and place to rob her.

Which means he likely had an idea that the woman had a connection to a judge, or someone working in the courts in some capacity. Which would still make this a case where someone thought along the lines of Rhett Butler (remember “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”).
MOLYNEUX (and McDuff)

And we now have a deceased officer of the court. All because a would-be thief became upset when the woman whom he had targeted for his robbery, it seems, turned out to not have any money in the purse he had just robbed.

AS IT TURNS out, the Cook County sheriff’s police says it investigates an average of 10 death threats per year against judges. But the number of incidents of violence against judges is just too minimal.

Judge Miles is someone who’s going to stand out in the memory of the Cook County judicial system.

As may Rev. John Molyneux, a pastor at the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in the South Chicago neighborhood. It seems that on Tuesday morning, he was walking his dog, McDuff, in the neighborhood streets near the church when a young man approached him at 91st Street and Baltimore Avenue and expressed interest in the dog.

The man then asked for a dollar, which the priest handed over. The man then produced an object the priest took to be a pistol and demanded more money.

THE PRIEST TURNED over his wallet and the man ran off.

Molyneux told the Chicago Tribune he’s not angry about the incident, and said he wants to show compassion. “I really think the opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is fear and we cannot live in fear,” the priest said.

Although this may too be an incident where first impressions are misleading. There is some indication the priest was dressed casually, and the robber didn’t know he was targeting a priest.
Priest robbed w/in block of his church

But still, we have one man trying to defend his female companion, while another was walking his dog. Not exactly the images of people we’d presume ought to be targets for crime – particularly since the amounts gained by both robbers combined sounds like it was less than what I have in my wallet right now!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

EXTRA: Rings around da Goat!

I happened to be in a car flipping around the radio dial when I stumbled across WGN-AM and heard one of their announcers take a pot shot at the design the Chicago Cubs came up with for the rings they gave this week to players and other people connected with last year’s championship ball club.

Remembrin' the goat
Among the details meant to make the ring unique (as if being the first Cubs team to win a World Series in 108 years isn’t unique itself) is an engraved symbol of the goat’s head.

ACKNOWLEDGING THE DECADES of tales that Cubs fans engaged in about “the curse” of the Billy Goat Tavern’s mascot that was kept out of Wrigley Field for a World Series game back in 1945.

Some, it seems, thought it horrible that the Cubs would want to remember a symbol of their long-time futility. Personally, I think it is a touch of honesty – and something that Cubs fans should never forget.
How much free publicity did Billy Goat Tavern get

Because, let’s face it. One winning year doesn’t erase all those seasons of futility. The Cubs character is built so much on losing.

Having a third World Series victory (1907, 1908 and 2016) doesn’t come close to the 27 World Series titles of the New York Yankees, the 11 of the St. Louis Cardinals. Or even the eight of the New York/San Francisco Giants.

IF YOU REALLY want to be honest about things, the Cubs winning last year means they’re now equal to the three titles (1906, 1917 and 2005) of the Chicago White Sox. Which means the real question for the hard-core of Chicago baseball fans is to speculate about which team will win Title Number Four first.

So let’s give a touch of credit to the Cubs for acknowledging their decades of futility in their moment of celebrating their victory – a celebration that will endure the entire 2017 season and probably put to the test the level of tolerance the rest of us fans of baseball have for Cubbie self-indulgence.
A more Soxy ring design?

On a final note, I have to say I think the Chicago White Sox came up with a less-gaudy design for the ring they put together for their World Series championship ball club of 2005. It’s something about the solid black face with the Old English-style Sox logo spelled out in diamonds that is less garish than the 108 diamonds that went into the design of each Cubs’ tribute ring.

Although to be honest, both of them look like such hefty pieces of jewelry I can’t envision anyone actually wearing either one of them on a regular basis.