Friday, February 24, 2017

Impeach Trump? It won’t be for any reason we, the people, approve of!

I almost find it amusing to see certain politically-motivated people getting themselves all worked up into a lather over the concept of bringing the presidency of Donald J. Trump to an end via impeachment.
Maybe it's true; Julia Roberts is putting on weight

Going the route that the conservative ideologues tried – and failed, I might add – to use on Bill Clinton. Giving him the unceremonious boot out of office that would have tainted him for life, similar to how some of our parents’ generation wanted to do with Richard M. Nixon and his assorted crimes and misdemeanors against the people.

IF ONLY HE hadn’t have quit first, then been pardoned.

But back to the modern day, where it seems so many of us are offended at the concept of Trump’s presidency that, after only one month in office, we’re willing to semi-seriously engage in talk about his forcible removal from office.

Heck, the City Council in Richmond, Va. – the mind of the Confederacy of old that Trump probably thinks of as his base – took it upon itself to pass a resolution calling for presidential impeachment.

It’s just a resolution. It has no binding legal authority. One can argue that nobody cares what Richmond thinks about this issue. But it does come across as somewhat scary that Trump could have p-o’ed some people so quickly.

IT MIGHT HAVE made sense if the Chicago City Council had passed such a resolution – what with all the ridiculous pot shots Trump has taken at the city in recent weeks. Although I suspect the more creative political minds of the Second City will come up with a more humiliating outcome for the Trump legacy.
Redeemable at a future Trump hearing?

Something that forevermore taints the Trump name and reputation. Which, for all the times he insists on using his name as part of the buildings he builds and projects he completes is something obviously of importance to him.

My thoughts about all of this were triggered by an e-mail message I received Thursday from the Committee for Hispanic Causes – BOLD PAC.

The Washington-based group is trying to raise money to support its efforts meant to make people seriously contemplate impeachment for Trump.

BUT AS THE e-mail itself said of their plan to raise $1 million by Wednesday night, “We begged. We pleaded. And we failed!”

Of course, the group also made sure to tell me their records showed I had contributed nothing to their effort. Which was the point of the message; to give me one last chance to redeem myself in their eyes and cough up some cash. Something I still have not done, and am not likely to do.

Because while I am as critical of the Trump presidency and the circumstances by which it came about as much as anybody else, I question the point of focusing on his removal.

Not just because I could see how the concept of a “President Michael R. Pence” would be worse because it would put the federal government firmly in the hands of the conservative ideologues who are desperate to impose their will upon all of our society.

I DON’T DOUBT that it is possible the Republican leadership of Congress could turn on Trump and decide they want to remove him. But if that were to happen, it would be for reasons that the bulk of society would not approve of. Most likely for not being conservative extremist enough to satisfy the alleged alt-right that voted in large-enough numbers to create the Electoral College quirk that put Donald into office.

If there is to be a Trump removal, it won’t be for any of the reasons that progressive-minded people would want him out! Which is why I think it is a waste to focus too much attention on the idea of “impeachment.” I’m braced mentally for the idea of being stuck with Trump for the full four years and think the proper alternative is to focus attention on coming up with a solid presidential challenger come the 2020 election cycle who can undo the damage being done now.

At least we’re not at the point in our society that we’re talking about staging a coup d’etat. Or, with all the negative attention Trump has focused on Mexico, giving Donald a fate similar to the 19th Century Emperor Maximillian – whom the French tried to impose on the Mexican people over their duly-elected President Benito Juarez.
Does anyone envision Trump's fate producing "great" art?
For those who don’t know your history, Maximillian died at the hands of a firing squad. Which may have made for an intriguing series of paintings by Manet, but isn’t the kind of scene we need repeated for the 21st Century!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

EXTRA: What warrants Obama brand for posterity (or maybe that long)?

Out in south suburban Markham is an elementary school named for Barack Obama, while a quickie search of the Internet uncovered schools in Dallas, Los Angeles and Milwaukee named for the nation’s 44th president.
OBAMA: Does he need a highway too?

Which intrigues me because our federal government’s current leadership seems determined to erase anything and everything that ever occurred during the Obama years. If they succeed, will students of the future attend schools named for someone who left nothing lasting behind?

WE’RE GOING TO spend the next few years, perhaps even decades, pondering the Obama legacy – between those who want to erect tributes to it in marble and whose who want to be the equivalent of the pidgeon that dumps its waste all over it.

So it will be interesting to see how things wind up this year with a pair of bills now pending in the Illinois General Assembly, being sponsored by legislators who want Obama to be something equivalent of John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Adlai Stevenson II or Dan Ryan.

As anybody who drives around Chicago on a regular basis knows, those men all have major highways named after them. In fact, I’d bet most people only know the Ryan as a South Side highway and don’t have a clue who the former Cook County Board president really was!

We do seem to have a split.
STEVENSON: Can he share I-55 w/ Obama?

ONE BILL SAYS we ought to rename Interstate 294, also known as the Tri-State Tollway, for Obama. It would be a major road used heavily every day by traffic in the Chicago area, and some think it cute that it connects Illinois to Indiana and Wisconsin – all of which are states Obama took in the Electoral College in his 2008 presidential victory.

Of course, the smart alecks point out that the Tri-State is the road used by traffic to avoid having to enter the Chicago city limits.
RYAN: A highway, more than a man?

But there is another bill calling for the bulk of Interstate 55 in Illinois to be named for Obama. As things stand, the Chicago portion of that highway already is named for Adlai.

In fact, I suspect most Chicago motorists would get a confused look on their faces if you speak of I-55; but Stevenson Expressway will create a slew of stories of traffic congestion they have had to endure.
FORD: Name has new freeway fame

ALTHOUGH I SUSPECT this bill is politically loaded – there will be the rural Illinois residents who will object to having one of “their roads” being used for an Obama tribute. Yet you try to dump the name of Adlai E. from the Chicago portion of I-55, and that will create a bigger stink because people will have to learn a new name for telling people what road they were caught in traffic on during the morning rush hour.

These measures are going to create quite the political brawl; particularly since I already sense how offended the “loser” (as in the one whose idea gets rejected) will take it personally.

Will we get some people out there determined to hang on to numeric designations because they don’t want to acknowledge the Obama name – similar to how I’m aware of some people who insist on using the “Calumet Expressway” name for Ill. 394 because they don’t want to acknowledge the “Bishop Ford Freeway” and the Rev. L.H. Ford whose cultural significance as international head of the Church of God in Christ apparently didn’t extend into the non-black parts of the South Side.

It is a large part of why I personally hate seeing roads renamed for anybody. The amount of stupid-talk that gets created is never worth the tribute, and it also has the effect of reducing the memory of anyone to nothing more than a future traffic jam or deadly accident.
BYRNE: She saw humor in her interchange

IN FACT, ABOUT the only renaming I ever wound up liking was the one that turned the Circle Interchange (just southwest of downtown where all the expressways converge) into the Jane Byrne Interchange, in honor of the first femme to become Chicago mayor.

It’s not that I think the Byrne Interchange moniker has all that special a ring to it.

But Byrne herself was still alive when the change was made, and I’ve heard stories about how much amusement she’d gain whenever she heard radio reports about traffic congestions that inevitably would include the line, “Jane Byrne is backed up.”


Feds need a warrant to get into public schools; what’s wrong with that idea?

When you think about it, it makes all the sense in the world. Although I can already envision the nativist element of our society ranting and raging about the unjustness of the Chicago Public Schools’ new policy.

I’m referring to the memorandum sent out this week to principals throughout the city school system, informing them that any agents of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency had better have proper arrest warrants on them if they decide to set foot on any school property.

IF THEY HAVE such warrants indicating they’re looking for a specific individual and also details exactly what it is they suspect that individual of, then no one is going to even remotely think of telling those agents to stop.

But if they think they can come onto school properties on a fishing expedition, of sorts, in hopes of finding evidence of people in violation of federal immigration laws, then it is only proper that such actions ought to be halted. Although it should be noted that officials say that immigration officials haven't actually tried showing up at schools. Not yet!

While I realize some people with a “law and order” mentality think police ought to be given great authority to scour amongst our society, the fact is that we expect law enforcement personnel to show some sort of cause before we allow them to legitimately restrict someone’s freedom.

That is the American Way, even though we now have the Trump mentality developing that thinks a more authoritarian way of doing things is somehow more appropriate.

TO BE SPECIFIC about this new policy, Chicago Public Schools chief education officer Janice Jackson wrote to principals to tell them they should forbid federal immigration officials from setting foot on school property unless they have that warrant.

Which would mean that a federal judge somewhere has given at least a cursory review to the circumstances and decided that there is a legitimate reason to be suspicious.

School officials also are making an effort to gather up more information about their students that would be needed in the event that a parent gets caught up in an immigration situation. The schools want to be informed about who is next in line to be responsible for a child if the parents suddenly “disappear.”

All of this is coming about because of fears that immigration, in this era of Trump, is going to step up its efforts and will be overbearing in its desire to remove people from our society whom some amongst us are determined to believe should never have been here to begin with.

I’VE NOTICED AMONGST my own Facebook friends those who live in neighborhoods with higher-than-average populations of non-Anglo residents warnings that “ICE agents” are out and about, on the lookout for people whom they want to believe are candidates for deportation.

People are feeling the need to be wary. The Obama era of wanting to think that such people have a place in our society and do make worthy contributions is most definitely over.

In fact, I wonder if amongst the Trump-ites, which Obama-era sentiment is a bigger priority to erase – serious immigration reform or health care reform.

It may be amongst the nativist element that foreigners, particularly if they habla en Español, are a bigger threat than having one’s tax dollars help to cover the cost of providing health insurance to all (or as many as possible).

IN LIGHT OF such attitudes spreading through our neighborhoods, it is reassuring that schools officials are showing a little bit of sense. And because they’re asking to see a warrant, it means legitimate law enforcement efforts won’t be thwarted.
Do ideologues hate health care or immigration more?

Just like the concept of “sanctuary cities” does NOT mean that people without valid Visas are capable of hiding out in Chicago, or any other place with that distinction.

It’s about requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to do their own work, which makes sense because they’re the ones trained in the nuances of immigration policy. Local cops have enough to do without being required to add immigration tasks to their work load – even though the new Trump policies seem to want to make just such an addition.

Just as schools officials have enough responsibilities to deal with, without having to monitor their student bodies and try to figure out which ones have parents whose immigration status is questionable!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Is Trump truly determined to make peoples’ worst nightmares come true?

I remember back a few years ago when then-President Barack Obama imposed his executive order that offended nativist ideologues because it tried to impose some sense on our nation’s immigration policy.
TRUMP: Determined to be absurd?

It was the order that proclaimed young people could remain in this country without fear of deportation – even if their immigration status was less-than-solid. It required those young people to register themselves, which had some people fearful that a future administration would use all that information gathered to suddenly put together a list of people to have priority status for deportation.

AT THE RATE that now-President Donald J. Trump is acting, it would seem that’s exactly the direction he’s headed in. And as for those activists who liked to tag Obama with the “deporter-in-chief” label, it won’t be long before Trump will snatch that status up all for himself.

We have a president who made some of his earliest presidential actions measures that indicate there are certain people now in this country whom he thinks have no right to be here.

Personally, I’d argue there are some people now living in the United States whom this nation would probably be better off without. But I’m aware that the notion of deporting the entire populace of Mississippi and Alabama (and maybe Arkansas, too) is something that is ridiculous to contemplate.

Of course, the idea of a mass deportation of people of Mexican ethnic origins (which I’m sure many think will include everyone with ties to any Latin American nation) is even more ridiculous.

BUT IT DOES seem to be the goal of many of the 46 percent of the populace that voted for Trump to be president, and the reason they remain pleased with Trump is that he is engaging in the absurd rhetoric that would indicate their ridiculous fantasies have a chance of coming true.

These are the thoughts running through my mind upon learning Tuesday of the Homeland Security memos that threaten to expand the number of people who get forcibly removed from this nation.

It now will be an enforcement priority to consider for deportation anybody even suspected of a crime – even if the offending act is something as little as a traffic offense.
OBAMA: Longing for days of so-called deporter-in-chief

Many of the places that have declared themselves “sanctuary” cities or counties have done so because they want to try to put people at ease when they have encounters with the police. Trump would seem to want to use law enforcement as the equivalent of local government muscle to harass!

IT IS JUST a matter of time before we start having to endure the embarrassments of the past – history is filled with incidents of U.S.-born people of certain Spanish-tinged origins who got deported because someone didn’t care to make the distinction.

And yes, I think the Trump types are just clueless enough to repeat this mistake – which is about as far removed from making America “great” again as we could possibly get.

Because the latest memorandums include provisions that say people caught by the Border Patrol of the act of entering this country through the U.S./Mexico border can merely be thrown back into Mexico.

Even if they aren’t of Mexican citizenship! Which, believe it is not, does happen quite often.

BUT BECAUSE IN the minds of the xenophobes of our society, all those brown people must be Mexican, our officials think they can just do a dump. Even though it technically means we’re pushing people into Mexico with no legal status to be there.
BAYLESS: Restaurant closures warrant praise?

Would that make the United States responsible for creating a surplus of “illegal aliens” in Mexico? Would we be the cause of the problem?

I couldn’t help but notice the reports of recent days to the business response to last week’s “A Day without Immigrants” protests and boycotts of work – a lot of those small business owners seemed determined to show who the boss really is. Many people lost their crummy jobs as a result.

Which ought to make us show a bit of respect for those Chicago area entities that chose to respect the protest act and wound up closing down, which gave their workers the excuse to take the day off. It may turn out that we are lucky enough to live in a place where sanity and common sense prevails – which is something to keep in mind the next time Trump does a Chicago rant!


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ill. '18 gubernatorial dreamer pool starting to winnow itself down to size

Cheri Bustos, the member of Congress from the Illinois part of the Quad Cities, has let it be known she is not going to be a candidate for governor come next year’s election cycle.
BUSTOS: Out, w/o ever being in

An announcement, I’m sure, that elicited a whole lot of yawns from political geeks, particularly those from the Chicago area, who probably figured that a Bustos candidacy wouldn’t have had a chance of succeeding anyway.

THEN AGAIN, I’M figuring there are probably many people who live in the other third of Illinois (a.k.a., downstate) who are thinking it equally ridiculous that 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar has delusions of someday being allowed to live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield.
PAWAR: Can he gain political traction?

Yet Pawar was the first person to declare himself an actual candidate – a status that Bustos never made it to. Even though there were some who figured that she had a chance to gain some votes just because she would have been the only significant candidate for governor from outside of the Chicago metro area.

Except that I think the kind of people who are inclined to want to vote in elections for someone from outside of Chicago are exactly the kind of people who will unite in 2018 behind Bruce Rauner’s re-election dreams.

Because his “Dump Madigan” strategy is really one that will only appeal to non-Chicago people. Those of us more urban voters will see the strategy for the nonsense that it is – because we know our local political officials aren’t nearly as united behind anybody, particularly the Illinois House speaker, as they want to believe.
Are we really destined for a Kennedy ...

IF IT TURNS out that Rauner dominates the rural Illinois vote, there might not be enough non-Chicago voters left for any other campaign to gain significant political support from.

The real significance of Bustos’ announcement that she prefers to run for another term in Congress is that the gubernatorial field is starting to shrink – even though we have just over a year before any votes are cast in that particular primary election.

Although it may still be a few months before the candidate field winnows down to where we can say who is actually running. And I still won’t be surprised if there’s at least one person who winds up running a serious campaign whose name hasn’t emerged yet.
... vs. Pritzker brawl to see who wins ...

I know some political observers are determined to view this upcoming election cycle as the Chris Kennedy vs. J.B. Pritzker primary. Although I’m pretty sure there are others of the Democratic persuasion who would wretch at the very thought.

THE IDEA OF the politically-top heavy family taking on the family with enough cash that they could afford to match the millions of his own money that Rauner says he will spend to try to get himself re-elected ALONG WITH a Legislature more to his liking than the incumbents.

They may think that a Democratic version of Rauner (ie., a rich guy) is the last thing the party needs, just like some Dems are going to forevermore be convinced that we’d be spared the thought of a “President Donald J. Trump” if only voters last year had dumped Hillary Clinton and gone with Bernie Sanders instead.

But then again, I wonder how many people aren’t going to be enthused about the notion of Illinois getting its very own Kennedy. The family has had members run for political posts in so many states, but our own local Kennedy tales focus on how Chicago supposedly “won” the 1960 presidential election for Chris’ “Uncle Jack.”

I don’t doubt that many voters will be desperately scouring all the other names in search of somebody, anybody, else whose candidacy they can latch onto in their desire to beat Bruce Rauner.
... the right to challenge Rauner come Nov. '18?

BECAUSE THEY FIGURE the absolute last thing Illinois needs is to have eight years without a budget. Yes, political people really are capable of being that stubborn, unless voters themselves take matters into their own hands at the ballot box.

I really do believe that Rauner is vulnerable because of the inability of state government to operate the way it’s supposed to. While some will be willing to blame Madigan, this is still an urban-leaning state politically.

But the inability to pick a credible candidate to challenge Rauner is most definitely why no one should write off his chances of getting “four more years” and giving us voters more partisan agonies to endure.


Monday, February 20, 2017

EXTRA: Can the Cubs really have a rivalry w/ a ball club called the ‘Nats?’

We want to be the team knocking them out
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals outfielder


Harper shot off his mouth, can he back it up
I suspect that at the Mesa, Ariz.-based spring training camp of the Chicago Cubs, somebody has tagged the newspaper clipping  (or maybe a computer printout) on a bulletin board of the Chicago Sun-Times’ story about the upcoming season for the Washington Nationals.

For while Cubs fans want to believe that last year's World Series victory was merely the beginning of a dynastic era that will rival the 1990s stretch of success experienced by the Chicago Bulls and could also top anything the New York Yankees have ever done, it seems that other National League teams want to think of the Cubs as one-and-done.

THAT VIEW EXPRESSED above was that of Nationals’ star Bryce Harper, who says his ball club is determined to be the one of success in coming years. The Cubs’ championship string will have to come to an end at one – or so says Harper.

Now I don’t know if that’s true. If anything, the Nationals of recent years have had contending teams that kept falling short. But if they do manage to contend, it would make that Aug. 4-6 series at Wrigley Field (when the Nationals make their one-and-only appearance in Chicago this season) all the more interesting.
Some Cubs fans already see '16 as greater

I’m sure the Cubs’ boo-birds will be sure to remember that particular line and try to use it against Harper when he plays in those ballgames. Particularly if he winds up having a sub-par season in 2017; it will definitely become a taunt that he’ll never live down at Wrigley Field.

Although it could make him a fan favorite on the city’s South Side, where Chicago White Sox fans would love it if his taunt takes on a taint of truth. It’s just a shame for Harper the Nationals aren’t scheduled for an inter-league game against the Sox this season.

OF COURSE, PART of Harper’s trash-talk against the Cubbies could be in reaction to the reports that it was the Cubs that employed a strategy last year when playing the Nationals that may have caused Harper to start off the season with a slump.
Dusty victory in '17 would ruin his Chicago rep

Specifically, they intentionally walked him so many times that he set a record for the most times getting on base without registering an official at-bat. Which allegedly threw him off his game.

All I know is that Washington is managed these days by Dusty Baker, who may have led the San Francisco Giants to a World Series appearance, but fell short during his time with the Cubs. Remember 2003?

I’m sure if Baker finally achieves a World Series managerial victory with the Nationals, thereby giving Washington, D.C., its first such victory by any team since 1924 and it is perceived at coming at the Cubs’ expense, it will be all the more reason for Chicago Cubs fans to despise the Nats and Dusty Baker far more than we ever will care about anything Donald J. Trump says or does!


¿Un enemigo? Methinks Trump needs to find himself a hobby for amusement

Much rhetoric has been spewed from all angles with regards to President Donald J. Trump’s need to go on a rant last week in which he labeled those people who work in the newsgathering business as “the enemy.”
TRUMP: Does majority listen?

Which amuses me, in a sense. Because it does not come as a shock to me to learn that certain political-type people are basically insecure enough in their own existence that they see great conspiracies at work by those who serve to keep the public informed as to what takes place in our society.

HECK, I HAVE been called worse. I know of a rant that exists somewhere on the Internet that labels me a subversive and suggests I have no business being in this country.

The person who wrote that did so after I wrote a commentary for a former employer pointing out his own crackpot nature. Besides, I later discovered that the website he used to publish his rant was also filled with rants lambasting several television news anchors and reporters – and in fact the entire Telemundo television network.

I felt in good company then, and I’m going to feel like I’m on the right side of things now by having the Trumpster tremble at the very thought of my news brethren. I can make people of his ilk tremble and quake in their pants just by pulling out my notepad and pen and taking down what they say.

Which is what really bothers the people who have such negative sentiments. The idea that they can’t control every thought they spew out into the world – although the truth is if they only put a little thought into what they said, there’d be no reason for them to be fearful.

JUST LIKE TRUMP’S most recent rant – the one about the terrorist attack in Sweden that apparently never happened. I suspect that what really happened is that Trump became aware of reports indicating an increase in the number of non-native people coming to Sweden.
They're not supposed to be presidential 'friends'
And if they’re foreigners, of course they have to be up to no good. So naturally, there has to be terrorism at its root.

At the very least, it could turn out that a Swedish bikini team (remember those ads for Old Milwaukee beer?) of the future wouldn’t be filled exclusively with blondes whom Trump could fantasize about grabbing by their most personal of body parts.

Oh, the horrors!

IF IT SEEMS like I mock the people who are most critical of my professional life, you’d be correct. It’s just too difficult to take them seriously.
The extent to which Trump likely comprehends Sweden

Besides, I find enough government officials who are secure enough in their personalities that they comprehend the nature of the give-and-take of dealing with a reporter-type person. I’ve also been encouraged by the sense of support I have read coming from many people who are offended at how paranoid our president appears to be.

There may be that poll of a few weeks ago that said some 90 percent of people who voted for Trump back in November were satisfied with his behavior. But I sense that the 54 percent who voted for Hillary Clinton or someone else because they absolutely did NOT want the concept of a “President Donald J. Trump” are emboldened even further.

Society as a whole has the right idea. Besides, I know personally that as a reporter-type person, I’ve never viewed my work as a potential source of material for making friends. Being able to tolerate each other is the best I often hope for in my professional dealings.
Obama relegated to lesser role with each passing day

SO DO I fear being labeled “the enemy” (or the “opposition party,” as Trump aide Steve Bannon put it a few weeks ago)? I do realize that Trump has shown signs of being unstable enough to try to go too far. But I also believe that sense will prevail in our society.

There have been too many times during the three decades I have covered news that government officials have surprised me by doing the right thing. Who knows, it may even turn out to be Trump himself who comes to his senses? Maybe, maybe not!

All I know is that I now find humorous that Columbia Journalism Review study of 2014 that found former President Barack Obama’s press relations to be terrible – he “gives long answers, leaving little time for other questions and rarely makes news.”

Somehow, I sense many now feel a longing for the good ol’ days of a month ago – and the Trump legacy could be that it makes many realize how much more sane and sensible the Days of Obama truly were!


Saturday, February 18, 2017

'Bipartisan cooperation' most definitely “dirty words” from the political past

I remember a moment from just over two decades ago when I overheard then-Gov. Jim Edgar engaging in political chit-chat with one of his aides.

MICHEL: Tried to bring pols together
Their subject? The retirement of long-time Peoria-area Congressman Bob Michel from Capitol Hill – including his post as leader of the House Republican caucus.

THE GIST OF their conversation? Wasn’t it a shame that Michel, who served for 38 years in Congress until his decision to retire following the 1994 election cycle, never got a chance to be Speaker of the House of Representatives?

Sure enough, the era in which Michel was a part of Illinois’ congressional delegation was one in which Democrats had control over the U.S. House the entire time.

Michel was the leader of Republicans for the final 14 years of his time in Congress, and developed a reputation as a person who could reach a deal with the opposition.

Which from his perspective meant he could achieve some goals for his constituents, even though technically he and his supposed allies were in the minority. Bipartisan cooperation as it can work, if everybody is willing to give a little and doesn’t adopt the attitude that political victory means squashing the opposing caucus into dust!

WHICH MOST DEFINITELY is the prevailing attitude of today – one that Republicans brought to bear in Washington right upon Michel’s demise. Because that election cycle in which he retired was the one in which Republicans gained a House of Representatives majority for the first time in decades.
TRUMP: Is his presidency the anti-Michel?

Not that anybody believes Michel should have held on for another term or two to be a boss on Capitol Hill. Because it usually is regarded by political observers that it was the change in leadership that helped cause the Republican rise to power.

Because it was the election cycle that resulted in Newt Gingrich becoming something more than just a congressman from Georgia, but a national figure who gave us the “Contract with America” that was a blatantly partisan political document meant to establish the ideals of a rural segment of our nation.

It certainly is a significant part of the path that has led our nation to our current predicament of a president openly hostile toward anyone who doesn’t share his own ideological agenda and more than willing to be vindictive to those not exactly like himself.
GINGRICH: He sides w/ Trump

I REMEMBER MICHEL being replaced in his congressional seat by Ray LaHood, his one-time chief of staff who later became Transportation secretary under President Barack Obama and, it turns out, became one of the few Republicans who rejected the Contract with America concept, and was also one of the few people amongst Republican ideologues who didn’t denounce Michel as a part of the failed concept of cooperation.

As though war and hostilities with the opposition party were the only way to achieve the goals one desired, while also crushing anything other people might want. It certainly isn’t a coincidence that the modern-day Gingrich was one of the few Republicans who openly backed Donald J. Trump’s political aspirations throughout last year’s election cycle.

Michel was a Republican, but he was one that I often heard older Democratic political operatives speak highly of – just because it was possible for things to be accomplished, unlike the age of ranting and raging that was developing then and has matured some two decades later, so to speak, into an obnoxious adulthood.
LaHOOD: At times, carried on Michel's spirit

It is one that I often wonder if it is to blame on my own generation, since it seems that many of the political operatives of today came of age back around this era and aren’t that much older than I am now. Or as Michel himself told the D.C.-based “Roll Call” newspaper in an interview not long ago, “I have to sometimes shake my head and say ‘My God.’ It is a far different place than it was in those days.”

MICHEL, OF COURSE, crops up into my mind on account of his death on Friday at age 93 following a bout with pneumonia. How amenable was he? Consider that for his 90th birthday, a party managed to include former House speakers of both political persuasions to pay tribute to the man who once tried to bring people together. Both Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., were on the guest list, along with our state’s very own Denny Hastert.
RAUNER: Could he use bipartisanship lessons?

That nature was acknowledged by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who issued his own statement praising Michel’s memory. “Best known for his bipartisan style and working cooperatively with Democrats and Republicans alike, he was beloved by all,” the governor said. Ironic, considering how much trouble the governor has in grasping the concept of bipartisan cooperation.

Perhaps the death of Michel is a moment we can use to reflect upon what has been lost by our own ability as a society to come together and use the government process to try to achieve things on behalf of our society.

In this “Age of Trump,” that seems like such an alien concept – in that the have-nots have to worry about what government intends to do TO them so as to assuage the presidential ego! And the inability to work together stretching into a third year without a state budget.


Friday, February 17, 2017

What did Thursday's ‘Day w/o Immigrants’ accomplish?

I wasn’t the least bit shocked when I read through some of the commentary posted on Facebook in response to several stories that had been written about the “Day Without Immigrants” protests that took place Thursday.
I complied, inadvertently

The nativist nitwit segment of our society wanted to make sure we all knew they think the people who participated in protest are irrelevant to our society, and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials would be wise to arrest protesters so as to garner a large share of future deportees.

IF ANYTHING, WHAT appalled me the most was the poor grammar of most of these nattering nabobs of negativism (to steal from the spirit of one-time Vice President Spiro Agnew’s quote that was his one positive contribution to our society).

Their spelling stinks and their grammar was atrocious. This coming from the people who go about thinking they’re the “real” Americans.

I suspect many of the immigrant protesters for whom English is an acquired language probably speak and write it better!

For it would seem that these protesters, consisting both of immigrants to this country and people who want to make it clear that the nastiness emanating from the mind of our current president has nothing to do with the American Way of life!

PEOPLE WERE ENCOURAGED not to go to work or school or spend any kind of money. The protest was meant to be a one-day example of the economic impact the so-called foreigners (or whatever stupid slur one might choose to use) have on this country.
Spirit reminiscent of this 2004 film

There were noon hour protests in Chicago with people marching from Union Park on the Near West Side to the Federal Building plaza. Which actually seems like a common destination for protests in Chicago these days.

The women marched there. Now the immigrants – although they didn’t achieve the hundreds of thousands of participants that the ladies did when they chose a Saturday morning to participate.

It makes me think that many immigrant types had to work for a living. Otherwise the crowds could have been larger.

AND WHAT DOES it say that many of the xenophobic types had the time to take to Facebook (and probably Twitter too, I haven’t bothered to check) to write their rants all through the afternoon?
Was Elia really talking about nativists?

It reminds me of one-time Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia’s famed obscenity-laced rant when he said “85 percent of the world are earning a living” while the other “15 percent” have the time to go to weekday afternoon Cubs games so they could harass the ballplayers.

Could it be that the “15 percent” who write these pathetic rants and the “46 percent” of people who voted for Donald Trump to be president are the same people?

It also amazed me the degree to some businesses acknowledged reality and closed for the day – and not just a few shops in the Little Village neighborhood. Chicago’s famed Berghoff Restaurant forced its usual noon-hour lunch crowd downtown to have to acknowledge the immigration issue.
Bayless joins in the cause

WHILE CELEBRITY CHEF Rick Bayless closed four of his Mexican-oriented restaurants, and said he’ll donate proceeds from the two restaurants he kept open to groups fighting to defend those immigrants being harassed.

Certainly a good move on his part – since he can now claim to have made an economic sacrifice and gain positive publicity by taking an action he had little choice but to do. Although I expect the Latino activist types who get all worked up that the pop star chef of Mexican cuisine is actually a white boy native of Oklahoma won’t want to give him any credit.
Forced downtown lunchgoers to address issue

There was even the Pete’s Fresh Mart chain of supermarkets that focuses its business on neighborhoods that often are ignored by Jewel. Their Southwest Side stores were closed. I wouldn’t know personally because I didn’t do any shopping Thursday.

Sure enough, I complied with the protest by not doing shopping or engaging in commerce. Athough I did keep a previously-scheduled doctor’s appointment – does that make me a “traitor” to la causa?


Thursday, February 16, 2017

At least Roskam said “no” publicly, before hiding from voter questions behind disconnected phone call

I’m willing to give Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., one bit of credit – he’s not spewing a whole lot of nonsense trying to justify his refusal to appear at public events where he’d be confronted by his constituents.
ROSKAM: Won't appear in public?

Roskam is the member of Congress from Wheaton who represents the bulk of DuPage County in Washington who in recent weeks has been taking heat for the fact he won’t show up at public forums and town hall events.

THE ELGIN-BASED Courier News newspaper reported recently about a recent event in which Roskam took questions from the public even though he wasn’t present – he called in by telephone.

To the people who wanted to hear from their congressman, he was just a voice on the telephone. And technology being what it is, there were glitches. Poor audio, no sound or some people just got hung up on, according to the Courier News.

But Roskam, who I remember having dealings with back in the days when he was a mere state legislator, doing his time in both the Illinois House and state Senate before going off and becoming a “big shot” in Washington, D.C., seems to think this is adequate in terms of meeting with the people who actually voted to send him off to Capitol Hill.

Now having spent the past quarter century of my life covering political geeks, I’m used to them spewing a sense of double-talk, particularly when the blunt truth would be a response something along the lines of, “I don’t want to answer that question.”

IN THIS PARTICULAR call-in forum, someone tried to get Roskam to commit to participating in a public forum against his opponent come the 2018 election cycle. To which Roskam gave an honest answer – “I am not willing to make any commitments in advance of any sort of campaign. So no, in answer to your question.”

Most political people would have engaged in a convoluted line of double-talk that would have rivaled the legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel’s ability to confuse with the spoken word.

Roskam actually came out and said “no.”
'Town hall' forums often are so staged that little 'truth' comes out of them
Which isn’t surprising. It is rare that political people want to challenge an opponent face-to-face. They’d rather spew rhetoric from a distance, usually rhetoric that has been crafted well in advance and is meant to take cheap shots with a tiny bit of truth attached to it.

OF COURSE, NOW Roskam opens himself up to the charges that he’s hiding from his constituents. But I’m sure he feels more comfortable dealing with that line of accusation, rather than the other attacks that political people find themselves under.
STENGEL: Spewing nonsense better than any pol

Insofar as the people who are upset that Roskam won’t take part in “town hall” forums, I actually find myself agreeing with the congressman when he says he thinks the forums are unproductive.

The “town hall” is a format meant to simulate an actual discussion between a candidate and the voters. But too often, it comes off as rehearsed in its own way. Only certain people get called upon to ask questions, if they can be counted on to ask the “right” questions.

It’s phony public discourse. Unless, by chance, someone manages to slip in who wants to challenge. But then it just turns into a fracas. Nothing real is learned. No one is swayed. Roskam would rather not be bothered playing along.

IF ANYTHING, THERE have been times when I, as a reporter-type person, felt used covering such events, because it was thought my presence and my resulting stories offered a sense of legitimacy to such events – even when I’d point out the elements of phoniness that existed.

As for Roskam, he’s now going to have to deal with allegations that he’s dodging his constituents. Although it seems that many pols get hit with that accusation from time to time.
Is beating Duckworth his sole achievement

We’ll have to see how DuPage voters respond. Will this become a real issue come the 2018 election cycle? Or will bigger issues and more serious controversies manage to take the electoral stage?

Will Roskam wind up becoming merely the guy who once beat Tammy Duckworth for his seat, only to see her go on to become the U.S. senator from Illinois? Which sounds as hollow as when his congressional colleague, Bobby Rush, still tries to boast that HE’s the guy who once beat Barack Obama.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

EXTRA: Capitol Quips? Or pure nonsense emanating from the guv!

Term limits get job creators excited.”

LINCOLN: Shuddering in disgust?

Yeah, maybe in some bizarro-world where Donald Trump is considered a compassionate ruler completely lacking in self-interest. Or where Pauly Shore was ever considered to have talent as an actor.

But in our own world, all we can do is laugh at the thought that Gov. Bruce Rauner really said that line, towards the end of the budget address he gave during the noon hour Wednesday in making it clear he’s not backing away from the ideologue nature of the first two years of his gubernatorial term.

WHAT MADE THE Rauner speech – which I must confess the Rauner camp was gracious enough to send me a copy of by e-mail about a half-hour prior to his actually delivering it on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives – particularly off was the fact that the governor began it with an Abraham Lincoln quotation:

The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion… we must think anew and act anew.” Which isn't as bad as the recent Trump misquote of Lincoln that made "Honest Abe" sound like a sympathy card saying.

What's odd about the Lincoln quote is that it apparently applies to everyone except the governor, whose strategy seems to be to tell his critics to “Shut up and do what I say!” Because he intends to say the same things, rather than "act anew."

It makes me wonder what Lincoln himself would say at the thought of having his name dragged into Wednesday’s budget address. Maybe he’d give the guv a “Three Stooges” type smack upside the head” and tell him to “Do the job!”