Monday, July 16, 2018

Illinois AG race about more than 'Obama clone' vs. 'lawyer Barbie'

By the time Kwame Raoul ...
There are times I wonder if people comprehend the purpose of the Illinois attorney general’s office.

For as I always comprehended it, the attorney general (for the past 16 years, it has been Lisa Madigan) has been the attorney for state government. Since our state is a large-scale operation, she has several assistants on her staff.
… and Erika Harold are through, … 

IT’S ALMOST LIKE she’s the head of a law firm whose sole client is Illinois state government. She’s there to defend the state every time someone within it screws up, while also making sure the rights our citizenry are not being violated every which way possible.

It amuses me every time I hear someone complain that the attorney general isn’t prosecuting someone, because it’s obvious to me they’re being swayed by some overbearing vision of what the post is.

Almost as though they think it’s the equivalent of the “state’s attorneys” that Illinois’ 102 counties all have. My guess is that if the attorney general ever tried to take on such tasks, there’d be a whole lot of griping from those local prosecutors about how she is grossly overstepping the bounds of her post.

All of this thought popped into my mind when reading a report recently (from Crain’s Chicago Business) about the state attorney general’s office and how its viewpoint is likely to be impacted by the elections to be held Nov. 6.

BECAUSE MADIGAN HAS made it clear she’s not staying in the post. The Democratic Party already has nominated a possible replacement (state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago), but there are some Republicans who think their nominee (Erika Harold) is the lone GOPer who has a chance to win something come Election Day.
… what will remains of Lisa Madigan's way?

The Crain’s report talks of all the lawsuits Illinois has filed, or supported, throughout the Age of Trump we’re now in that challenge the federal government on various issues.

With Raoul saying he is a “last line of defense” from a federal government that would be very eager to play partisan politics against Illinois. Meaning he’d intend to pursue all the lawsuits that come from the Madigan Era of the attorney general.

While Harold is much less committal. She’s not offering up much details, but some are reading into her words that she’d be willing to have her staff dismiss the lawsuits they’ve started against the federal government.

“I BELIEVE THE attorney general’s office should not be using their scarce resources to enter into lawsuits for purely political purposes,” she told Crain’s. “I would only sue the federal government if Illinois law has been implicated or the federal government has acted in violation of the Constitution.”

Which is a nice, text book answer that sounds like it came from a law school student trying to suck up to the professor to get a better grade.

For the reality is that way too much of the issues and the law are open to interpretation. One person’s serious cause on behalf of the public becomes an ideologue’s pet issue that they want to dump all over.

And could it be the intent of an “Attorney General Erika Harold” to back off of trying to rile up the federal government in hopes that it might get President Donald Trump to quit getting riled up against Illinois every time he has so little to do that he takes to spewing out political bile on his Twitter account.
Obama, Raoul share just a neighborhood

ALTHOUGH I DID find it interesting to read in the Crain’s report that Harold supports the state lawsuit brought about by Madigan that challenges the Trump administration’s attempt to withhold $6.5 million in federal funds for local law enforcement in Illinois as a response to the concept of “sanctuary cities.”

All of this means we’re going to have a decision to make come Election Day when we get to the portion of the ballot related to state attorney general.

Just how much of a pain in the behind do we want our state government’s legal adviser to be? And to what degree are partisan political issues things that wind up being a part of the public good?
Perhaps an image of Harold that needs to be retired
Definitely something we voters need to give more serious thought to than believing the attorney general’s race to be nothing more than between a Barack Obama clone and a former Miss America who used her prize money to put herself through law school!


Saturday, July 14, 2018

How do you handle a sporting event when you honestly care less who wins?

When it comes to the World Cup, I find the world of international soccer to be interesting – moreso than the hype we have surrounding the Super Bowl or NBA playoffs that seem to last forever.
Yet with the world of international soccer reaching a peak this weekend – and the World Cup tourney bringing a month’s worth of activity to an end with a championship game Sunday, I have to admit I’m not all that enthused.

WHEN THE NATIONAL teams of France and Croatia take to the pitch to try to stake their claim to having the best football club in the world, there will be those thousands of fans packing their way into a stadium in Moscow, and many thousands more gathered around television sets for a lifetime experience.

I’m likely to be watching on television, hoping something will happen to make the game itself memorable.

But I honestly can’t say I’m rooting for either side. The idea of France vs. Croatia brings about a bit of a “blah” in me.

I’m sort of glad to see that in the semi-final match on Wednesday, England fell short of Croatia. Mainly because I can’t think of anything less interesting than the idea of an international championship coming down to a brawl between England and France.

I KNOW THE history.

I don’t doubt that to the English (and only the English, not anybody from Scotland, Wales or Ireland), it would be a moment of great historic significance if they had been able to win a World Cup championship against their historic arch-rival. Instead, they’ll settle for playing in a consolation game Saturday against Belgium – a match I won’t be able to watch, because I’ll have to do reporter-type work that day.

But perhaps I have too much of an all-American Yankee Doodle Dandy in me. I was interested in the World Cup this year for the vision it gave us of the rest of the world. Not to see the one-time world powers try to pretend that history remains the same and that the world revolves around a London/Paris axis.

While some might think that makes me a natural to root for Croatia to win come Sunday, I just don’t see it happening.

LARGELY BECAUSE I have had friends in my lifetime who are of Serbian ethnic origins. Somehow, I suspect they’d pay me a “surprise” visit and feed me a meal of knuckle sandwiches if they thought I was somehow rooting for their nation’s historic rival.

I know for some people who think of themselves as soccer fans, their interest in World Cup ’18 diminished last autumn when the U.S. national team couldn’t even qualify to be among the 32 teams that played this year.

Trinidad and Tobago will be places that get demonized in their minds, what with how it was their team that managed to knock the United States out of the running, and which spared fans the world over the sight and sound of the “American Outlaws” group leading “U-S-A” chants all over the one-time Soviet Union.

For me, I am a fan of el Tri, the national equipo de futbol of Mexico, and usually find myself taking interest in all the teams from nations that are a part of the Americas. When Hirving Lozano (nicknamed “Chucky”) scored the lone goal against Germany, that was my personal highlight of the 2018 version of the World Cup.

SO WHEN MEXICO got knocked out of the running by Brazil, then Brazil lost in the quarterfinals to Belgium, my own intense rooting interests in this year’s World Cup declined. They diminished altogether when Uruguay lost to France – who may wind up winning their third World Cup tourney ever come Sunday.

Putting them behind Brazil (with five titles) historically, but well ahead of anybody else in the Americas.

The World Cup is one of those periodic athletic events. We’ll get it again come 2022 in Qatar. We’ll get to see Middle Eastern sheiks staging the event in all the opulence possible for matches played out in the desert.

Yet I don’t doubt there are those fans of soccer who already have shifted their attention to 2026. That’s the year we’ll get to see World Cup activity in the United States – the first time since 1994. Along with Mexico (which had it in 1970 and 1986) and Canada (never before). We’ll have to see if the nations of North America can play nice with each other while the world watches.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Political people seem never to learn about using failed campaign tactics

GOP would rather 'Fire Madigan!'...
It has been a constant of electoral politics amongst Republicans in Illinois during the 21st century – Mike Madigan represents evil and all that is wrong with our state, and the key to success is to knock him out of political control.

Of course, Madigan has been in the General Assembly for nearly a half-century, has been Illinois House speaker for most of the past four decades, and all the cheap trash talk about “Fire Madigan!” hasn’t gone anywhere in recent electoral cycles.

… rather than study Rauner flaws
YET THAT ISN’T stopping the Illinois Republican Party, the one stuck with a gubernatorial nominee who’s most definitely unpopular amongst the rank-and-file of the GOP, from continuing to tread down this path.

The Republicans of the Illinois House on Thursday came up with their campaign strategy – touting what they’re calling a “People’s Pledge” that asks all Republican officials to show their loyalty to the one-time Party of Lincoln by promising two things:

·        Term limits for anyone serving in a legislative post or other statewide government office, and
·        Refusing to support the idea of letting Madigan have yet another two-year term as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Is this really a successful political strategy?

It seems the part of the Republican Party that used to take great pride is claiming to be all about the ideals of “favorite son” President Abraham Lincoln is now more committed to the ideals of “dumping” Madigan.

Who admittedly has as one of his ideals using his political influence to ensure that Chicago gets its fair share of whatever services and funding Illinois is capable of providing.

WHICH IS A large part of why I personally can say I support Madigan’s continued role within state government – in an era when we have Republican officials in this state who’d like to think the state should be cracking down on the influence of its major city, Madigan’s hardball political tactics may be what keeps the state from being run roughshod over.
Probably has this t-shirt tucked away in dresser drawer

Perhaps they’d prefer the style of the Barack Obama presidency – whom a recent poll said was thought of to be the best presidency of recent times. Which struck me as odd – unless the poll was taken amongst no one except 10-year-olds.

For as much as the Obama era was based in some high-minded ideals, the reality is that Obama wasn’t capable of standing up to the partisan tactics of a national GOP that was determined to undermine him.

And which now is fully supportive of an Age of Trump determined to erase any traces that Obama ever existed. Of course, these are the same people all offended these days that Gov. Bruce Rauner not only attended, but officiated over, a wedding ceremony between two men.
Do modern-day Ill. Republicans think much ...

PERHAPS WE’D HAVE some lasting traces of the Obama presidency if that administration had someone more like Madigan in a position of authority. And while current Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have been a chief of staff during the Obama Years, his time in that post was too short to have a lasting effect.

So now, we’re going to hear over and over about this “People’s Pledge” and the idea that all our problems would be solved if we’d merely “Fire Madigan.” Although the same tactics were used by Republicans in the 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 election cycles – and they didn’t seem to work then.

Is the Illinois Republican Party determined to keep trying this tactic, then try to rewrite history in the future to claim it was successful all along – except that certain voters didn’t pay attention?
… of either of the state's 'favorite sons?'

What actually bothers them is that they remember the days of not all that long ago when Illinois had four consecutive governors of the Republican persuasion. They also remember that two-year stint (1995 and ’96) when all of Illinois government was Republican-run, from Jim Edgar as governor all the way down through the constitutional offices and the state Legislature.

THEY MAY LONG for the brief interlude of when Madigan himself was reduced to the role of “Illinois House minority leader,” and we actually had the concept of “Illinois House Speaker Lee Daniels of Elmhurst.”
DANIELS: The Illinois one, that is

Although Daniels is now long-gone from the political scene, and I suspect when most people hear that name, they think I’m referring to the guy who directed the 2013 film “The Butler.”

I’m not claiming Illinois must have Mike Madigan in a position of authority in order to exist. The day will come, and likely not that far off in the future (Madigan is 76) when the “esteemed” Mr. Speaker will depart.

I just don’t think recycling the same, failed campaign tactics of demonizing Madigan are going to be what ultimately hastens the man’s departure.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

EXTRA: 39 years, really?

It has been 39 years to the date that either Chicago White Sox fans allowed a catastrophe to occur in between games of a double-header against the Detroit Tigers. Or else outspoken broadcaster/former ballplayer Jimmy Piersall showed himself to be the ultimate crotchety old man.
We're talking Disco Demolition, when local broadcaster Steve Dahl made his rep by leading the anti-disco music rally (dressed in a pseudo-military uniform as a "general" in the war against bad music) that resulted in some 2,800 fans storming the field and causing damage, while many others remained in their seats and wondered what kind of "dope" these young kids were smoking.

I STILL GET a kick out of watching the WSNS-TV broadcast of the game, with Piersall attempting to narrate what was happening on the field (along with the late baseball writer Bill Gleason of the Chicago Sun-Times), while also showing his contempt.

"This is the sickest sight I've seen in a ballpark in my life," Piersall said. "This garbage of destroying a record has turned into a fiasco."

While many of those who have memories of storming the field talk of how liberating an experience it was.

We even got to hear Piersall go into a diatribe that makes him sound like he was a Trump-ite, some four decades before it was fashionable to be so.

"WE HAVE BECOME a nation of followers, we're insecure. We follow someone who's a jerk," he said, while adding he didn't understand the appeal of the event. "I'd rather go swimming, or do a lot of other things than stand around on a baseball field."

Some 39 years later, people still recall the event -- and some people awash in Chicago Cubbiness try to use it to detract from the White Sox.
Which makes me think Gleason may also have missed the point when he said, "This is not a scene I want to remember."

Because it is one that many of us will never forget. Including Major League Baseball itself. Because would anybody be remembering a 39-year-old game between the two teams that finished in fifth place in their respective American League divisions for any other reason?


EXTRA: Can we truly get justice for Emmett Till all these years later?

I have to admit to being curious to learn what the “new information” is that could seriously make the Justice Department think it worth their time to reopen the investigation into the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till – the Chicago kid who was visiting family in racially-segregated Mississippi and managed to offend the local racial mores.

Still waiting, some 63 years later
The Associated Press reported Thursday on a Congressional report from March indicating that the Till slaying is officially up for investigation again.

WHAT STRIKES ME as odd about this is the timing – we’re now in the Age of Trump where the last thing you’d expect anybody to be doing is to dredge up an old criminal case that goes a long way to showing how the concept of “Make America Great Again” is a crock.

The Till death (he was severely beaten and his body dumped in a lake with hopes that his remains would never be uncovered) was one that motivated many people into realizing there was something wrong with the segregationist ways of old.

Even though I suspect the kind of people who look kindly upon the Donald Trump campaign theme think we lost something significant in our society when those ways of old were diminished.

It may be the kind of people who will try arguing that two men went on trial for the Till killing (both were acquitted by all-white juries inclined to look favorably on them).

AS THINGS STAND now, Justice Department officials admit they have suspects as to who killed Till – but they’re all dead. Nobody’s going to go to prison for what happened to Emmett.

Priorities; Yankees more important!
So what realistically comes of reopening the investigation?

There could be some value to forcing our society at-large to face up to what happened. Because it’s all too easy for the passage of time to dim the view of the atrocities of that era.

Besides, perhaps the sensibilities of the ‘past’ need to become publicly offended before we can truly move on as a society from the taint of our history.


What about that cop just standing around, watching while doing nothing?

The offending “incident” is nearly a month old, yet people are continuing to get p-o’ed about it for various reasons. I’m referring to that woman at a Chicago-area forest preserve who had to put up with a drunken jerk who took offense to her t-shirt depicting the Puerto Rican flag and its colors.
The idea that there’s a nitwit out there who felt compelled to start shouting and screaming because someone of Puerto Rican ethnic origins wouldn’t feel shame about her background isn’t the least bit surprising to me.

THERE LIKELY WILL always be nitwits out there who think they can shout down the existence of anything that isn’t exactly like themselves.

But this incident, which the woman used a video camera to capture for all of us to see, sticks out in my mind because of the presence in the background of that officer with the Cook County Forest Preserve District police.

He’s the guy in uniform (and body armor, in case a gun-wielding nutcase hiding out in the woods tries to attack him) who can be seen watching the incident and doing nothing about it.

Not even after the woman, who actually obtained the proper permit to use the picnic area at the Caldwell Woods forest preserve, pointed out to him that the drunken jerk was trying to harass her. Personally, I always thought more highly of the Forest Preserve cops (I have an uncle who is a retired officer) than that!
PRECKWINKLE: Pushing for investigation

I SUPPOSE SOME people will say this is evidence of how times have changed for the better. Because there probably would have been a time when the police officer would have seen the incident, heard the woman complain, and would have chosen to arrest HER on the grounds that she was offending the sensibilities of the man and had the nerve to claim offense for herself.

For what it’s worth, more Forest Preserve District police officers arrived at the scene later, and the man with the boorish behavior ultimately got arrested. He now has charges of assault and disorderly conduct pending against him – charges for which he likely will get hit with some sort of fine.

But it means that the split of our society seems to also exist within our law enforcement – and we have to hope that if confronted by such an incident, the cop who winds up coming to our “aid” is one with a proper sensibility.
GARCIA; Wants 'hate' crimes charges added

And not somebody who thinks he exists to protect the rights of the troublemakers.

WHICH IS WHY I’m pleased to learn that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle herself has taken in interest in the on-the-job behavior of the law enforcement types on the county payroll.

Although I also don’t doubt that the officer in question (who submitted his resignation Wednesday before police disciplinary hearings could be held) probably thinks he’s being harassed and that if we had REAL government officials in charge, they’d be backing him up!

There may even be people out there in total agreement with that train of thought. Wondering why our society has gone so loony as to be backing this woman with her Puerto Rico-motif t-shirt. Even though I suspect many of those are also the types who think there’s some legitimacy to that “heritage” argument people make when defending Confederate battle flag wearers.

Personally, I’d say her “heritage” is a part of the United States (Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth) while the other pays tribute to a movement to split away from this nation’s ideals.

I AM INCLINED to think that focusing too much attention on this loud-mouthed guy misses the point. I’m not inclined to get worked up like Congressional candidate Jesus Garcia, currently a Cook County Board member, who says he wants the charges against him upgraded to include a “hate” crime.
ROSSELLO: Demanded an apology

Or Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who has been vocal in his disgust that someone would face harassment because of her ethnic origins.

The guy is a nitwit who probably has read too many Donald Trump-written Twitter tweets and ultimately will have to live with his contemptable self. Punishment enough. But that officer. He, and other officers like him, are the ones we’re going to have to rely on for protection.

Not all cops are alike – there are those who do act nobly with the best intentions of protecting society. We just have to hope they’re the ones who respond when called to our incidents; which amounts to a real crapshoot along the lines of a Las Vegas slot machine.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Are President Trump, along w/ backers, channeling their inner ‘Rhett Butler?’

Learning that President Donald J. Trump isn’t all that concerned about the quandary faced by children who may never be reunited with their parents who tried bringing their families with them to the United States couldn’t help but remind me of the old film, “Gone With the Wind.”

TRUMP: Even manages to intrude on family
You know what I mean, that bit at film’s end when Clark Gable’s “Rhett Butler” character tells Scarlet O’Hara, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

WHEN LEARNING THAT Trump on Tuesday is trying to oversimplify the whole situation as one of people not coming to this country “legally” (he said, “Don’t come to our country illegally. It’s not a good thing”) shows that it’s not just the Twitter version of Trump that is a nit wit.

But I also don’t doubt the kind of people who are enjoying this Age of Trump we’re now in aren’t the least bit offended. In fact, I suspect they view the upcoming political battle we’re going to engage in over Supreme Court control as an effort to cement such attitudes in place.

I suspect many of them, “don’t give a damn” either.

It was this past Saturday, around the same time that protesters trying to tie up traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway were finishing their efforts, that I was at my aunt’s house.

SHE HAS AN annual gathering the weekend after Independence Day which often becomes the only time I see certain cousins of mine.

Sure enough, politics tainted much of the weekend conversation. I particularly noted (they were loud enough to be overheard in the next room) one conversation between a cousin whose labor union membership puts him on the “liberal” side of the equation and another cousin (who recently was able to retire early with a retirement plan that means he’ll be able to survive financially without having to work anymore) taking up (as he always does) the conservative side of the equation.
Is THIS Trump's ideal of 'America' great again?

Tempers became heated. People were being mocked mercilessly. And when “Cousin Jimmy” wound up giving me a ride home following the occasion, he insisted on giving me his rebuttal to much of the argument that had taken place.

Where Jimmy basically gave me his line of logic for approving of the Age of Trump – we ought to focus on economic issues, with everything else that gets discussed is pretty much irrelevant.

AS THINGS TURNED out, my cousin got a payout of just over $1 million. Although his finances are living proof that being a “millionaire” isn’t worth what people would dream it to be.

Basically, he leaves that money to sit, and has to count on the interest for income to survive. Which has him watching the Trump presidency for signs that he does things stupid enough that they upset the financial markets. Things that could cause his interest payments to decline.

Getting worked up over other issues? Cousin Jimmy is pretty much like Trump on the controversy of families being split, with children being seized from their parents and officials admitting they aren’t going to be able to meet any court-ordered deadlines for returning children to their parents.

Particularly those kids whose parents were already deported from the United States, or those who ultimately were released into the general population and we really don’t know where they are right now.

IT’S NOT IMPACTING their “bottom line,” so it’s not going to bother them. Just like Rhett didn’t care about Scarlet – although it should be conceded that Scarlet had pulled so much nonsense throughout that film it’s a wonder he didn’t smack her silly!
DELILAH: Will she have to fix our mess?

You might be wondering where I was in all this family squabbling. I made a point of staying in the other room – largely because it had a particularly cool breeze passing through that made it the most comfortable room in the house to be in.

But also because another of my cousins brought her daughter and 1-year-old granddaughter along. Personally, I find myself engaged in too much political rhetoric during the week to the point where I found baby Delilah to be far more interesting than any of the adults whose babbling was inane.

Although I also found my own thoughts turning to her; for it’s going to be she and her generation that winds up having to cope with the impact of all the nonsense our ideological rants are causing these days.