Saturday, June 29, 2013

Too many people trying to translate heckles about a distant election

Excuse me for not being impressed with the people who are trying to interpret Friday’s Grant Park rally for the Chicago Blackhawks as evidence of how much we can’t stand Gov. Pat Quinn.

QUINN: Do we hate him, or all pols?
Yes, it’s true! The governor -- who shouldn't have gotten any more involved than placing a bet with the Massachusetts governor -- was given a chance to say a few words while also being seen wearing some sort of red-and-black garb (including a Blackhawks cap) to give him a moment of glory with the Stanley Cup trophy.

AND YES, IT’S true that the people at the rally (perhaps as many as 2 million) behaved like Homer Simpson in thinking he had “the right, no the duty, to make a complete ass of myself” while in a large sports-related crowd.

It’s a good thing they didn’t follow the other Homer Simpson rule about sports; “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how drunk you get.”

The bottom line is that any political person who shows up at a sports event is going to get booed. Only part of it is an expression of political opposition.

Much of it is the fact that the people on hand want to see a ballgame. Or on Friday, cheer on a championship team. Anyone who doesn’t actually play for the Blackhawks was going to get booed.

THE LAST THING anybody wanted to see or hear was a government official.

EMANUEL: Slipped in, and out, of rally unscathed
Which is why I couldn’t help but notice the fact that the Capital Fax newsletter pointed out the fact that when Mayor Rahm Emanuel made his brief comments at the rally, he just went up to the microphone and spoke.

Unlike Quinn, who received an introduction to the Grant Park masses!

Considering how far most of those people attending the rally were from the stage, I suspect most people had no clue that Rahm was Rahm – at least not until after it was too late to boo and any heckling would have seemed to have been directed at a professional athlete.

WHICH ON FRIDAY would have appeared to be downright uncouth!

MADIGAN: Will he stay, or will he go
It’s just one of those unwritten rules about when it is appropriate to heckle a political person. In fact, about the only time I can ever recall a politician NOT being booed at a sports-related rally was last autumn when Emanuel appeared at Mount Carmel High School to help celebrate the Woodlawn neighborhood school’s state championship in high school football.

Although I suspect it was more the presence of Catholic brothers who would have cracked down on any students who misbehaved. Perhaps that was what Quinn needed to prevent himself from being heckled – some clergy from his own alma mater, Fenwick High School, to provide crowd “control.”

Not that Quinn’s appearance was the only prognosticating on Friday. The Chicago Sun-Times came up with a pair of stories attempting to downplay the chances of potential Quinn challenger Lisa Madigan of being successful in next year’s gubernatorial primary.

DALEY: Benefits if Quinn and Madigan fail
LONG-TIME POLITICAL OPERATIVE David Axelrod told the City Club of Chicago that he thinks it will be an obstacle to her campaign if her father, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, refuses to step aside from his long-time (three decades-plus) post.

Which is what another candidate, William Daley, wanted us to think when he made public his own poll results earlier this month that said people would not vote for her because of her father.

I kind of admired the Illinois attorney general’s response to all this – telling the Sun-Times at an EMILY’s List event in Chicago that she’s NOT going to be the one to tell her father that it’s time to leave the Legislature. “I’m not going to give my father political advice,” she told the newspaper.

MADIGAN: Not about to tell father, 'it's time to go'
All of this makes me suspicious of the people who want us to believe. They’re too eager to campaign for something we’re not going to be asked to vote for until March of next year.

IT MAKES ME want to dig out the earplugs to try to avoid all the rancid rhetoric we’re going to get in coming months.

Too many people are trying to put this thought into our heads – as though we’re supposed to dismiss her before the campaign gets seriously underway. Just like the same kind of people who want us to discredit Quinn because he got booed.


Friday, June 28, 2013

We’ve come a long way, security-wise, when it comes to victory parades

It seems like such an innocent time – the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl and fans turned out in downtown near the Picasso statue to publicly celebrate.

How packed will this space be on Friday?
Then-Mayor Harold Washington braved the wintry January day with his Bears stocking cap, and the fans rejoiced on that day 27 years ago.

FAST-FORWARD TO EIGHT years ago – in the days after the Chicago White Sox won the first World Series title for a Chicago ball club since 1917. The ball club boarded a bus at U.S. Cellular Field, then drove along a parade route through the Near South Side neighborhoods and wound up in the downtown area for the public celebration.

But when sports fans gather downtown on Friday to celebrate the Chicago Blackhawks’ victory this week, taking the Stanley Cup with a 4-games to 2 victory over the Boston Bruins, they’re going to see a more intense level of security on hand than any other athletic victory celebration this city has ever thrown.

Even compared to the 2010 celebration when the Blackhawks managed to win their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years.

The Friday festivities will have the feel of that White Sox celebration (which considering the ball club’s dreadful play this year feels like a dream, maybe it never happened?) in that there will be the parade with hockey players on board a bus and assorted puck-heads lined up along Washington Street to watch the players pass by.

BUT THEY’RE BEING led into Grant Park, where the fans who persist in sticking around for a victory rally will be spread around a huge area.

Law enforcement officials say that spreading them out – rather than having them crammed into the canyon-lake space of a downtown street – makes it easier for them to maintain order.

Which in the wake of the explosions that killed a few and injured many at the Boston Marathon earlier this year is something that officials want.

The Chicago Tribune reported that there haven’t been specific threats or any evidence to indicate anyone is planning to do anything on Friday at a Blackhawks victory rally. But they claim to want to be extra-careful.

THE LAST THING that Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants is for his victory party (the first in which he will preside over as mayor) to be thrown awry by someone thinking they can use it to cause mayhem.

Noting the fact that the bombs used at the Boston Marathon were small devices brought into the area in backpacks, officials have made it clear anyone bringing any kind of bag into Grant Park for the rally will be searched.

It would be easy to just tell people to ditch the bags. But then again, there is a whole generation that relies on their overstuffed backpacks to haul around their possessions.

Telling people to ditch the backpacks would be as practical as the current orders that prohibit people from bringing cellular telephones into courthouses.

BUT IT ALSO means that the hundreds of thousands of people who will be estimated to attend Friday’s rally will largely be so far from the hockey players that they’re going to appear to be nothing but red blobs.

This is a closer view than you'll get Friday
The PA system had better work flawlessly, or else no one is going to be capable of hearing anything anybody has to say. Not that the athletes are all that eloquent! But the aura of the Cup will mean that nobody will particularly care.

Personally, I don’t plan to attend.

The distance will take away any sense that we’re actually seeing the Blackhawks. The security will make it feel like we’re in a generic crowd-scene – and not one of the rare moments when a Chicago sports team actually manages to win something!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Political cowardice on gay marriage, local officials must make up own mind

I found the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling with regard to gay marriage to be amusing, in a cynical kind of way!

SUPREME COURT: Forcing us to make own decision
Because I suspect there are many people on our local political scene who acted in ways that I believe meant they wanted to get away without ever having to take a stance.

I BELIEVE THEY were desperately hoping that the high court would issue a ruling that would resolve the matter altogether. Perhaps they wanted the court to strike down the concept so boldly that they would never have to consider it again.

Or even those who may want marriage to be a legitimate option for gay couples but have their own yellow streak where their backbones ought to be located. Perhaps they wanted a hard-hitting ruling that would settle the issue once-and-for-all!

We’d have gay marriage, and they would never have to vote on it.

But the Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday morning, when broken down to its basics, says essentially that this is an issue for each and every state to have to resolve on its own.

THE PEOPLE WHO tried to strike down California’s efforts to legitimate marriage for gay couples lost – meaning that the issue has some legitimacy. But our national maps are going to become the equivalent of a checkerboard – with some states allowing the concept and others going out of their way to express their hostility.

In our case, State Line Road is likely to become a serious point of demarcation between where friendly and hostile forces exist on this issue.

Of course, there are so many other issues where the regions of our nation differ. We probably can predict which states will ultimately accept gay marriage – and which will be hostile until the day that some sort of federal order comes down imposing the change upon them.

ILLINOIS HOUSE: Whose lead will they follow?
Then again, maybe this issue will turn out like the whole civil rights debacle that also was created by the Supreme Court earlier this week – with the federal restrictions imposed on southern states to crush segregation were lifted on the grounds that they’re obsolete and no longer necessary.

EVEN THOUGH I suspect some people have been waiting for decades for the chance to have the restrictions lifted so that they could start subtly nudging the nation back in their ideological direction.

Wishful thinking on their part, but I also suspect there will be some people who will be eager to rant and rage when it comes to gay marriage.; hoping that if they 'hold out' long enough, they will get their way! We’re already getting statements from many Catholic officials trying to downplay the significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling by saying the issue is now in the hands of the legislatures.

Actually, they’re right!

If the Illinois General Assembly continues to be as weak-willed on the issue as it was this spring, then there will be no significant change. We will continue to lag behind Iowa on this issue; AND could wind up being paired up with Indiana as the last holdouts among the Great Lakes states.

I DON’T KNOW how they’re going to behave on this issue come the fall veto session – which is when some people said this spring the issue should be postponed until. Soon enough, we will get to re-live this spring's rancid rhetoric.

MADIGAN: Doomed by issue?
I just find it amusing that the people who serve in our state Legislature are going to have to take a stance on the issue – it’s not going away. The pissed-off activist-types who are threatening to take down the potential gubernatorial aspirations of Lisa Madigan (who as a state senator and state attorney general has been among their supporters) as payback will ensure that we hear about it.

Even though the religious-types who want to think they’re being morally superior are also going to keep up their rhetoric until we all have a headache and are sick of hearing about the issue.

I’m sure the Supreme Court of the United States left some of our Illinois House members quaking in their pants – they’re going to have to figure out this issue for themselves and take a stance! Which is supposedly the reason we send them to Springfield in the first place.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mother Nature reminds us periodically of who really runs things – it ain’t us!

Never before in my life have I been thankful to be woken up at about 3 a.m. by a sudden surge of noise and light.
No, I didn't see ...

That’s what happened to me early Tuesday, because I was among those who managed to get their electrical power knocked out for a few hours by Monday night’s sudden storm.

I HAVE TO confess that the storm itself didn’t seem like much to me – a heavy rain is all.

I happened to be in my broken-down (but fully paid-for) automobile when the hard rain and stronger-than-usual winds suddenly came. My instinct told me that trying to drive in it could be risky.

So I pulled over and parked the car, then sat in the vehicle for about 20 minutes until things settled down to the point where it was just a normal rainfall.

I finished my trip (work-related) a few minutes later, and by the time work was “done,” the rain had stopped altogether. So I drove home not thinking much about it.

IT RAINED. RAIN is a part of our normal weather. It helped cool off the humidity somewhat.

But when I got home, I discovered that my home neighborhood had been devastated by those stronger-than-usual winds. There were branches blown all over the place.

Many of those branches managed to hit things. In my case, they knocked out the electrical power.

Which in my case was professionally devastating, because I had some work-related writing to do. It was on deadline. And the lack of electricity meant I didn’t have the wireless Internet connection at home that enables me to work there at my convenience.
... either of their big-game goals

AS I SEARCHED for a place with a wireless connection that did NOT lose electricity, I couldn’t help but notice how darkened the neighborhood was. Particularly odd since we’re at the time of year when daylight is at its longest.

My neighbors wound up using the weather as an excuse to party. The whole extended family swarmed their way out of the air conditioner-less home (no electricity), pulled out the barbecue grill, and the kids were running up and down the block in play.

I felt like I had to avoid hitting both fallen branches AND little children. Fortunately, I succeeded.

And when I got about one mile from my humble abode, I found a Starbucks’ coffee house. I’m not usually one to spend big bucks for their pretentious cups of coffee. Nor do I think much of people who spend hours on end with their laptop computers or other electronic devices – leeching off the wireless connection.
She can be mean when she wants to be!

BUT ON MONDAY, I became one of them. Although I made a point of getting my essential work done within a half-hour, then leaving (not long before they were getting ready to close).

When I returned home, the place was still dark. It was humid. It was miserable.  And the answer is "no," I didn't see any of the Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning victory over Boston. But in the dark, there was nothing one could do – other than stumble my way through my humble abode to the bedroom. Where I laid in my sweat, and ultimately drifted off to sleep.

Until! My alarm clock suddenly lit up (3:11 a.m., it was), the air conditioning kicked back on and a couple of lights that had been on when the power went out suddenly flickered to life.

The rest of my night was a little more comfortable. But I have to confess I struggled to remain awake Tuesday morning. It was NOT a good night’s sleep.

AS I WRITE this, I still have a few gadgets whose inner clocks are going to have to be re-set.

Although I learned that a colleague of mine who also lost power still had not had it restored as of the noon-hour Tuesday. And as I drove around my neighborhood, I still see some crews working to clear fallen brush and restore electricity to those whose power-less experience extended into a Day Two!

So as much as I want to gripe and grouse about a miserable night, a part of me can’t help but feel fortunate that it didn’t turn out worse. That’s something we all should keep in mind.

One little twist of wind can revert us back to the conditions of the days when all of this land around here was nothing but open frontier.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EXTRA: Will the Chicago Cubs be the suburban dream of towns that consider themselves too upscale for a casino?

How long will it be before the Chicago Cubs have a list of municipalities desiring their presence within their boundaries that is so long that it might as well be all 250-plus communities in the Chicago area?
A suburban replica anytime soon?

For the Chicago Tribune is reporting about yet another suburb that thinks it has a plot of land perfect for erecting a 40,000-seat stadium and handling the kind of traffic that comes from crowds that large.

SUBURBAN TINLEY PARK now needs to be added to the list that now includes Rosemont and DuPage County – all of which have expressed some interest in being considered if the political egos become so bloated that an overhaul of Wrigley Field becomes impractical.

Perhaps municipalities that think they’re too elite to have a casino would think they could have the Cubs. Although I’d wonder which would be the bigger gamble?

Specifically, village President Ed Zabrocki (one of those long-time mayors – 32 years, and counting – who makes the stints of the Daleys, J. and M., seem miniscule by comparison) said he could see the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center becoming the site of a new stadium.

That facility was closed by Illinois state officials amidst great controversy. Something has to be done with the site – which, by the way, sits right on the Cook/Will County border.

THE CUBS LITERALLY would be right across the street from Will County. Maybe somebody could erect one of those tacky tobacco-retail businesses (that operate under names like “Smokes” or “Cheap Cigs”) right across the street from the ballpark?

If the Cubs were to wind up in Tinley Park, I would see a little bit of irony not so much in that it’s a suburb to the south of Chicago (which makes me wonder if the Chicago White Sox would pull a San Francisco Giants-style move and refuse to let them “invade” their territory just like the Oakland Athletics can’t consider a move to San Jose, Calif.), but in its former purpose.

The site on 183rd Street west of Harlem Avenue once housed people who were considered to be too mentally unstable to be amongst us. Now, we may have people going there and becoming mentally unstable after having watched yet more bad Chicago Cubs-style baseball.
A future Cubs ballpark site?

Or maybe it’s somewhat appropriate that the one-time West Side Grounds ballpark (at Taylor, Wood, Polk and Lincoln streets where the Cubs used to play at the beginning of the 20th Century) is now the site of the University of Illinois Medical Center.

PERHAPS IF CLARK and Addison streets were once a medical facility, the Cubs would have been more successful (never won a World Series in the 99-plus seasons they’ve played there) than they have been.

Not that any of this should be taken too seriously. I don’t expect to see the Cubs play in Tinley Park, or any suburban park, any time soon.

If they tried, I suspect they’d find out how quickly they’d alienate the portion of the Chicago metro area for whom any particular suburb isn’t all that convenient!


What if we're no closer to resolving 'gay marriage' by week's end than now?

There were those people who, while Illinois spent time this spring trying to figure out what to do with the issue of making marriage a legal option for gay couples, gave as their reason for wanting to wait the concept that we should see what the Supreme Court of the United States would do.

For the issue was among the cases that the nation’s high court heard this spring, and is expected to issue a ruling on some time later this week (maybe even as early as Tuesday).

BUT WHEN I learned of the court’s ruling Monday with regards to affirmative action, I couldn’t help but wonder if those people felt a little bit foolish for waiting.

Probably not! Many of those individuals have no factor for feeling shame. Many of them just want to delay the issue – perhaps out of some misguided belief that it will go away if they don’t think about it.

Now what do affirmative action and gay marriage have to do with each other?

It just seems that the high court was desperately trying to avoid doing something that would be seen as definitive in the case involving admissions policies at the University of Texas.

THE CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGUES who want to do away with policies that try to balance out the factors in our society that can hold back certain individuals from achieving their full potential would have loved it if the Supreme Court had upheld a lower court’s ruling that found flaws in the university’s policies.

Instead, the Supreme Court told that lower court to reconsider the way it reviewed the case. The Supreme Court seemed to imply there might be flaws in the lower court’s rejection.

It’s as though the Supreme Court doesn’t want to be the entity that strikes down attempts to restrict affirmative action policies. But they also don’t want to do anything that could be interpreted as giving “aid and comfort” to those policies as well.

Are we going to get another ruling later this week that manages to take the same attitude toward gay marriage?

IF I HAD to put money down on a bet, I’d be willing to say the answer is “Yes.”

Perhaps this case will wind up being thrown back to the individual states to resolve for themselves. Perhaps Illinoisans are going to have to figure out for ourselves what to do with this issue.

Which would mean that all that was accomplished with the failure to pass the bill in the Illinois House of Representatives this spring was that several more months of time were wasted.

And our state managed to lump itself for a few months in with the states of the Old Dixie that probably will take a certain amount of pride in being the final states of the Union to take up the issue.

ILLINOIS CERTAINLY ISN’T going to be at the forefront of this issue.

Now for those people who are going to start citing political strategy at me to defend the failure of the Illinois House to even vote on the bill, don’t bother. I get it.

Having some sort of vote just for the sake of putting people on the record as being opposed might have resulted in an overwhelming defeat that would have given the same “aid and comfort” to those ideologues and their personal hang-ups about our society.

At least this way, there’s still a bill pending in the Illinois House that already has Illinois Senate approval. The whole legislative process doesn’t have to start over.

I SHOULD STATE one thing here. I don’t know for a fact that the Supreme Court of the United States will take this same attitude toward gay marriage. Nobody knows what the high court will ever do until they literally do it.

Way too much of what passes for reporting about appeals courts borders on predictions that are about as legitimate as those funky people who read tarot cards at sleazy carnivals.

All I know for sure is that it is likely that those people who were expecting a definitive direction from the Supreme Court on this issue are likely to be among the disappointed by week’s end.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Convenient? Or crowded? What about public buses brings out the worst in us?

When it comes to the whole issue of “concealed carry” of firearms, the part that particularly astounds me are the people who have problems with the idea that mass transit is a place where firearms ought to be restricted.

Because while I believe in the concept of mass transit (and particularly like riding the “el” trains, even when they become subways), I’ll be the first to admit the mix of individuals of all sorts can create a volatile situation that is easily triggered.

THE IDEA THAT someone who is of a paranoid-enough nature to think they need that pistol tucked into their waistband (or in a shoulder-holster, if they’re really hard-core and have watched too many cop movies on the late show) in order to feel safe might just as easily be the type who gets provoked into pulling it out at the least little incident.

Just this past weekend, a CTA bus driver wound up having to receive medical treatment for burns to his face. What happened?!?

It seems that a passenger got on the bus at the Jefferson Park transit center, recognized the driver as one who passed him by earlier in the day, then persisted with this feeling of being “wronged” by attacking the driver.

No, the passenger was not armed with a pistol. But he did have a cup of coffee, which he used to toss into the driver’s face!

FORTUNATELY, THE DRIVER wasn’t actually driving at the time. So it wasn’t a moving vehicle that could have harmed many other people.

But it makes me wonder if this person who felt wronged could have been a serious threat if they had somehow been permitted to have a firearm on their person.

Watching old “All In The Family” reruns makes me realize that for all the nonsense spewed by actor Carroll O’Connor’s “Archie Bunker” character, he wasn’t that far off when talking about the odd mix of people he encountered while riding the New York subway.

He’d call them “creeps,” “weirdos,” “preverts” and other sorts of slurs. But it is accurate in that it is a mix that people shouldn’t toy with if they don’t know who they’re dealing with.

BECAUSE, AS THE Chicago Tribune reported, this weekend there was a guy who was all upset about having a bus drive right past him to the point where he felt the need to seek revenge with a scalding cup of coffee.

It didn’t even matter that the person wasn’t at a properly-marked bus stop – which justified the driver’s actions in driving right on by. That was a person who felt wronged, and used what he had on him in order to get back at the CTA.

Throwing ammunition and a weapon capable of discharging it in a lethal manner into the mix is only asking for trouble.

Fortunately, the person in this incident was arrested at the scene. There will be some sort of criminal charges against the individual. Although I’m sure some pundit will try to twist this into one of those incidents in which government runs amok over the rights of the individual.

THEY’LL PROBABLY TRY to claim that the CTA and the police are wrong to seek punishment against a coffee-cup wielding person – as though he were merely someone trying to enjoy a beverage, but couldn’t because of the inept mass transit service.

Actually, we ought to be thankful that all this incident had was a cup of coffee. Because at least the facial burns suffered by the driver were easily treatable.

Throw a pistol in to the mix, along with a self-righteous belief that someone is somehow standing up for their rights, and the incident instantly becomes a national mess.

Something like the early Sunday stabbing of a man at the Red Line’s Belmont Avenue “el” station


Saturday, June 22, 2013

LeBron can take his 2nd title and stuff it; he’ll never top the Jordan image

Personally, I find the whole Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James argument to be silly.

Anybody who seriously follows professional athletics (not those who paint themselves all kinds of funky colors to try to get themselves on television) knows there is no definitive way to compare ballplayers of different eras.

IN FACT, ONLY a fool would try to make such an argument seriously. Then again, we have a lot of fools amongst us.

So I’m sure we’re going to hear many people claim that LeBron (whose Miami Heat team won its second-straight NBA title this week, beating the San Antonio Spurs 4 games to 3 in the championship series) is the greatest. We can forget about anything “MJ” accomplished.

We’ll even get those people who will start screaming “six” over and over until they keel over dead from a heart attack. As in the fact that Chicago Bulls teams with Jordan managed to win 6 NBA titles.

Does this mean that if James-led Miami teams manage to come up with five more titles before the kid hangs up his sneakers, he will be the undisputed greatest dribbler ever??!?

IT’S A BATCH of nonsense to think either way. Because there’s nothing James could ever do to detract from the overall image that Jordan created – which went well beyond anything he ever did on the basketball court.

LeBron James is an athlete. Jordan took his skills into creating an image that for many will forever define professional basketball – often taking it to extremes where it seems like we couldn’t escape his image.

His restaurants. His shoes. His cologne. It was everywhere.

The closest one can find to Jordan in terms of celebrity professional athletes is baseball’s Babe Ruth. It doesn’t matter what “numbers” James puts up – his image doesn’t come close. Shaquille O'Neal was more of a celebrity than LeBron. Anybody who tries to get worked up is being ridiculous.

I BRING THIS issue up because I’m trying to anticipate many verbal brawls that could get way too physical (leave it to sports fans to think that their favorite team creates “life or death” issues).

I’m not arguing here that Jordan is better. Although if Jordan were just a ballplayer, I doubt Bulls fans would remember him any more fondly than Bob Love or Horace Grant, or basketball fans remembering Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul Jabbar!

They certainly wouldn’t have felt compelled to let him have his own NBA franchise – one that shows any skills he has about basketball are limited purely to what he once could do on the court. Nobody expects the Charlotte Hornets to match the Bulls anytime soon. One wonders if the Hornets will ever be as good as the Charlotte Knights -- the underachieving Chicago White Sox minor league affiliate?

In fact, in my mind, the thing for which LeBron James will be most remembered is that he seemed to trigger the modern trend of top-notch high school athletes skipping out on college altogether to jump to the NBA.

IT WORKED OUT for him, although most of them wash out. Anybody remember Eddy Curry – the onetime star of suburban Thornwood High School who didn’t lead the Bulls to anything significant and – the last I heard – was playing professionally in China?

I’m willing to concede that Jordan was the top ballplayer of his era, and James the best of what we see now. Although it’s bound to happen that in a couple of decades there will be somebody on the basketball court whom everybody will want to believe is THE BEST!!! because that’s all they’ve seen in person.

And a whole generation of kids of the future will think of LeBron as some old fool, the way that kids of today are too eager to think of Jordan as just another old fogy.

Besides, those of us in Chicago know full well that the sports team that “matters” these days is the Blackhawks – who could on Saturday put themselves only one win away from a second Stanley Cup hockey championship in four seasons.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Political doubletalk when it comes to federal immigration reform measure

Excuse me for not being all that impressed with the statement that Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., issued Thursday with regards to immigration reform.
KIRK: "Proud" to back immigration reform?

Kirk in recent days has been getting the political abuse of activist-types who were disgusted that the senator from the Chicago-area made a procedural vote that sent a clear message that he was more interested in courting the support of the conservative ideologues rather than revamping the federal policy concerning immigration policy in any sensible manner.

SO I SUPPOSE it is meant to get those activists to back off that Kirk issued a statement where he says, in part, that he will be “proud to vote for a bill” on the issue.

His statement of all of 92 words came out amidst reports that the Senate may have reached a compromise that could allow the issue to come up for a vote sometime next week.

In fact, shortly after reading Kirk’s statement, the news reports came out saying that a deal has been reached – one that would boost the number of Border Patrol agents along the U.S./Mexico border (even though the U.S./Canada border is larger and more open), provide money for aerial drones and require continuation of construction of that inane barricade to the south – even though the deserts of the southwest provide a fairly un-crossable terrain already!

Supposedly, in exchange for these flawed principles, then the ideologues will be willing to allow for measures that address the real problem – the fact that there are some 11.1 million non-citizens living in this country (of which Kirk said about 525,000 are living in Illinois) without a valid visa even though there is no legitimate reason to deny it to them.

EXCEPT FOR THE convoluted and bungled bureaucratic nightmare that is our immigration policy. It needs to be cleaned up. You can talk about requiring fines for those people who came without (or in many other cases, overstayed) a valid visa and some sort of assessment where they have to square themselves with the IRS.

People have differing issues on how severe a problem exists, but it is a relevant issue.

But bringing up this border security bull – which was the reason Kirk gave previously to justify his siding with the hard-core ideologues – is just irrelevant. They ought to be dealt with separately; if at all!!!

But this is the process of electoral politics – creating a measure in which no one is completely pleased and some people are absolutely outraged.

FOR ALL I know, Kirk may still find a way to vote “no” when the issue comes up for a final vote in the U.S. Senate.

I also sense that some people are pushing for a bill that they hope thwarts immigration reform from ever occurring.

These are the ones who insist that the reform measures that give people already in this country a chance to come out of the shadows and live here openly can only take place following future reviews that ensure their desires to barricade the United States to the south are being accomplished to their desired level.

Their standards for “desired” level are so vague that it makes me wonder if they will automatically reject the idea on the concept that their goals are not being met. Because already, the more hard-headed of the ideologues are trying to denounce this compromise as “amnesty” even though it’s not by any stretch of the definition.

YES, I HAVE my problems with this measure – although I accept this is likely the best that will be accomplished any time in the near future.

But that doesn’t mean we should now consider Kirk to be something sort of a political saint for his actions, which in his statement he says, “respects our heritage as an immigrant nation.”

Because pushing for the creation of provisions that appear designed to booby-trap the implementation of the needed immigration reform measures, it would seem that we’re dumping all over that heritage.
Even if that heritage, in all honesty, at times has seemed more like making life as difficult for newcomers as is physically possible.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

We see the future, and it’s rather cheap

A part of me was appalled enough by the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday to make some sort of grandiose gesture such as calling up the newspaper and cancelling my subscription!

Of course, I didn’t. For a couple of reasons.

FOR ONE THING, I don’t subscribe. I have always been one of those individuals who prefers to buy newspapers at the newsstand or at a convenience store or some other physical place.

But the bigger reason? I suspect that those Wrapports-type people who own the Sun-Times and all the suburban newspapers would probably be incredibly pleased (tickled pink, which phrase do you prefer?) if a lot of people were to quit buying the paper.

Which officially is no longer the Chicago Sun-Times.

It’s now Even in print! Yes, I think it’s kind of cute that they use one of the Chicago-style stars (as in the city flag) for the dot in .com. But otherwise, the newspaper has made a significant shift that just doesn’t do much for me.

FOR IT SEEMS that management now wants us to think of the Sun-Times as being a Chicago-oriented web site that happens to put out a daily publication based on its content.

As if the newspaper itself were now just an advertising flier for Flip through its pages, and you can get samples of the types of stories you can find once you put down that dreaded newsprint and boot up your computer, laptop, smartphone or whatever other gadget you happen to use to access information.

I noticed several instances where the stories on the website are longer and more detailed than what appears in print. That doesn’t mean the website is more comprehensive by any means.

Just read the story by top-notch political reporter Natasha Korecki about the polling numbers on potential gubernatorial dreamer Lisa Madigan. All of the interesting detail is only on the website. None of it made the printed paper.

IT JUST MEANS that the hard work of reporter-type people was held back from anyone who actually plunked down $1 for the physical product. To get the whole story, one now has to turn to the medium that likely will never be able to charge the kinds of advertising rates necessary to support a worthwhile news report.

Making the shift makes no sense, unless you really are determined to get people into reading the website and want to view a newspaper as a pain in the butt – despite the fact that ink on paper is so much easier on the eyes for those people who actually try to read extended bits of copy.

Which strikes me as wanting to chase away one’s most loyal customers to try to attract more people who likely aren’t going to want them, no matter what gestures are made.

One other point about the NEW – something about that shade of red for the nameplate, combined with the white lettering. It looks like a cheaply-printed comic book. Hoy and RedEye (both Tribune-published tabloids) have a more sophisticated look than the read tabloid-format newspaper in town.

THAT IS PARTICULARLY ironic, because most “graphic novels” (who’s kidding whom, they’re comics) go to great lengths to achieve high-quality printing standards. The cheap look drags down the overall image.

Although I have to admit to finding some humor in that front-page story (“Feud or Fraud?”) about Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and state House Speaker Michael Madigan, both D-Chicago.

If this really is a comic book, they both came across as sinister-looking arch-villains engaged in a wicked plot to undermine that never-impressive super-hero, the Mighty Pat Quinn, on yet another issue.

All in all, it has me thinking I need to pick up the New York Times national edition on a more-regular basis. Either that, or start trying to figure out what kind of costume a Quinn super-hero character would wear?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

EXTRA: Don’t let vehicle stickers accumulate; you can get a ticket for having too many on your car

I don’t know if this is the most trivial, or the most practical, thing I have ever seen on the Internet.
Soon to be history, unless you didn't buy it ever

The Expired Meter, a website devoted to people who persist in driving automobiles around Chicago, gave us a video recently about how to remove those vehicle stickers from your car’s windshield.

AND THEY HAD none other than City Clerk Susana Mendoza give us a personal demonstration – Windex and razor blade in hand – as she got one of those stickers off fairly cleanly.

Because depending on where you live (in Chicago, it’s July 15), the deadline for making that purchase (I made mine about a month ago) to your municipality so they can have money in their road repair funds is likely coming up. June 30 seems to be a popular deadline for many local governments.

Unless you happen to live in a place that doesn’t think to charge such a fee and require you to mar your windshield.

I once lived in such a place (Springfield, Ill.) for a few years, and I still remember the blank look I got from their city clerk’s staff when I actually inquired about when their deadline was.

YOU’D HAVE THOUGHT I suggested Communist propaganda by wondering when I’d have to buy a sticker.

Of course, there are other places where the local police scour their municipalities for cars without stickers so intensely that they wind up ticketing car owners from places that don’t require their residents to make such a purchase. Which means those motorists have to go to court to prove they did nothing wrong!

Springfield also makes up for it by charging a city tax (1 percent, on top of all the other taxes and fees) on all its residents when they purchase automobiles – even if they buy them outside of the capital city.

I did just that when I lived down there, then found myself being sued by the city a couple of months later. Fortunately for me, they were eager to drop the lawsuit once I paid up!